Children’s Forum established to increase child participation in national development

Minister of Woman Empowerment and Children’s Protection Bintang Puspayoga in a virtual dialog held with members of Children’s Forums in Central Indonesia, Saturday (17/04/2021)

IO – The Ministry of Woman Empowerment and Children’s Protection continues to encourage the increase of child participation in national development, for example by establishing a Children’s Forum. Minister of Woman Empowerment and Children’s Protection Bintang Puspayoga hopes that the Forum can be established all the way down to district and village levels.

“We hope that this means of participation is used properly. We hope that Indonesian children will not simply enjoy the fruits of development, but will take part in the development effort itself. We hope that the children in the Regency Level Children’s Forum encourages the establishment of Children’s Forum in all districts and villages. Child participation at district and village levels has always been very low,” she said in the virtual dialog with Children’s Forum from Central Indonesia areas, Saturday (17/04/2021).

The formation and activation of Children’s Forum down to district and village levels depend on Regional Governments. Therefore, Minister Bintang requests that Regional Heads involve children in regional development through Children’s Forum. “I hope that the Children’s Forum will be supported properly by Regional Heads, meaning not just ending at the formation of the Forum, but on to involving children in Development Planning Conferences (Musyawarah Perencanaan Pembangunan – “Musrenbang”), especially at Regency level,” she said.

In the Dialog, the children shared their aspirations and innovations, as well as the obstructions that they came across in the execution of their role as pioneers and reporters (pelopor dan pelapor – “2P”) in their regions. They highlighted a number of common issues: Efforts to prevent child marriage, child worker issues, smoking, bullying, and stunting. “We still come across child-age marriages in the Province of Gorontalo. The reasons behind this problem include economic trouble, lack of knowledge, bad social relations, outdated culture, arranged marriages, and early love relations. We perform our function as 2Ps by directly socializing the discouragement of child marriage with our friends, by sitting and talking together informally with them,” Wahyu, a member of Children’s Forum from the region said.

Berry, a Children’s Forum member from West Lombok, stated that child marriages increased greatly during the pandemic. Despite restrictions of direct activities, Berry and his friends innovated by socializing, using webinar and video technology. “Child marriages also often happens in our region, especially during the pandemic. We do various efforts to socialize against the issue, including putting up posters in tourist spots. We also cooperate with child protection institutions in our regions to organize webinars on child marriages, because most parents and children are not aware of the impact of these marriages. We also socialize on the issue by posting videos on social media,” he said.

Other things that were discussed include children’s right of identity, equalization of education, educational gap and obstacles to remote learning, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need for child-friendly play spaces. “One of the rights street children have not obtained is the right to a birth certificate. Therefore, we have the initiative to cooperate with the Civil Registry Office to create birth certificates and child identity cards. After this collaboration, we are given the facility of easy and fast processing of papers. Our efforts are open not just for street children. We help all children in Kendari Town,” said Berliana, a participant from Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi.

After hearing the children’s aspirations, Minister Bintang expressed her appreciation of child participation as 2P in the Children’s Forum. “This is simply amazing. So many children providing us with necessary inputs and informing us of efforts already made. This can inspire other children. As 2Ps of the Children’s Forum, it is right that you are good exemplars for your friends in your respective environs and you will continue being just that. The Ministry will discuss all of the issues we heard here with other, relevant Government Ministries and Agencies so that we can find solutions together,” she said. (eka)