Wednesday, September 30, 2015

UNICEF global report finds large drop in Indonesian child deaths – but major challenges remain

By Nick Baker, Communication and Knowledge Management Officer 

Around 4.5 million Indonesian children have been saved since 1990. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2015

A new global UNICEF report has highlighted how Indonesia is making substantial progress in reducing child mortality.

The Promise Renewed: 2015 Progress Report stated that the Indonesian under-five mortality rate currently stands at 27 deaths per 1,000 live births compared against 85 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990.

In 1990, an estimated 395,000 children died in Indonesia before reaching their fifth birthday. The corresponding number was 147,000 in 2015. “This is still a shocking number, but it also means that an estimated 4.5 million children have been who would have died if the mortality rate had remained at the 1990 level,” UNICEF Indonesia Representative Gunilla Olsson said.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

We Are Siblings: Young Innovators Changing Lives

By Vania Santoso – Innovation Lab Youth Engagement Officer

The We Are Siblings graduation ceremony. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2015.

“I was very close to giving up. I’m so happy I didn’t.”

This simple line recently brought me to tears. It was said by We Are Siblings member Cynthia Andriani as their pilot project ended in Bogor. She perfectly summed up the struggle and success these young innovators have experienced over the past few months.

We Are Siblings is an anti-bullying mentorship project created by students from Bogor Agricultural University (IPB). It won the Global Design for UNICEF Challenge earlier this year. The win meant We Are Siblings received a USD $2,500 grant from UNICEF to pilot their initiative.

The pilot saw a team of six mentors from the We Are Siblings team work with 29 children to find innovative ways of dealing with bullying. This was done both in-person and online. In-person sessions involved one mentor working directly with a group of children on anti-bullying modules. Online sessions complemented this, through daily contact via personal messaging apps.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Breaking the Cycle of Violence

By Nick Baker, Communication and Knowledge Management Officer 

Weapons made by 15-year-old Rama. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2015/Nick Baker

In a South Sulawesi community centre, 15-year-old Rama* lays out a collection of sharp metallic arrows. The softly-spoken teen explains how he once made and sold these arrows to fellow youth. They were used in the gang warfare which occasionally erupts in his neighbourhood. “Violence is everywhere here,” he says.

Rama has a story similar to many young people in Indonesia. He grew up surrounded with violence - violent parents, violent teachers, violent friends. By the time Rama entered his teens, violence had not only become acceptable, but almost a routine part of his daily life.

“I started to fight at school. I would fight in the streets,” he says. It proved to be a slippery slope. “One day my uncle gave me a badik knife (traditional Indonesian knife). Then I was fighting with knives and I got stabbed,” he says, lifting his shirt to reveal a number of scars.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Stolen Childhoods: The Young Brides of West Sulawesi

By Nick Baker, Communication and Knowledge Management Officer

“I preferred being a student to a mum,” Sari* says, cradling her child. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2015/Nick Baker.

Countless small villages dot the western coastline of Sulawesi Island. Rows of rumah panggung (traditional houses) are set between pristine beaches and thick, rolling jungle. It looks like paradise. But these communities are the scene of a silent crisis.

Child marriage is prevalent across West Sulawesi. The province has the highest rate of girls married at 15 years or younger in Indonesia. For a variety of reasons – cultural, religious, economic – childhoods are lost here on a daily basis.

Ayu* is one such girl. The softly-spoken teenager lives in a farming village called Amara*. “Both my mother and grandmother were married at 14,”she says. And the family tradition continued: “I was 15 when I got married and my husband, Ganes, was 23.”

Friday, August 14, 2015

Child Marriage Takes Centre Stage at 2015 AJI-UNICEF Media Awards

UNICEF Indonesia Representative Gunilla Olsson salutes journalists at the 2015 AJI-UNICEF Media Awards ©UNICEF Indonesia/2015/Nick Baker

By Nick Baker, Communication and Knowledge Management Officer

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 13 August 2015 – The high prevalence and negative consequences of child marriage in Indonesia came into sharp focus at the announcement of the 2015 Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI) and UNICEF Media Awards in Jakarta.

The award ceremony has been held since 2006 to acknowledge and encourage excellence in reporting on child rights issues. For this year’s competition, a total of 318 journalists submitted stories, photos, TV and radio pieces.

Child marriage was selected as the focus of the 2015 event. This was particularly relevant after a recent Constitutional Court decision which upheld the current Indonesian marriage law – allowing girls to be married at 16 while boys can only marry at age 19. The case has begun to spur a national dialogue around child marriage.