Despite Indonesia’s recent economic successes, children are continuing to struggle with poverty, education and healthcare. A two-day conference in Jakarta, Indonesia addressed these issues, as well and child labor, and discussed ways to alleviate young adolescents from harmful conditions. Those who attended the conference advocated for child-specific poverty programs to finally bring a brighter future for thousands of children living in Indonesia.
As a country where 30 percent of its population (220 million people) is under the age of 15, Indonesia is home to child labor. The International Labour Organization estimates that 3.2 million young people, between the ages of 10 and 15, are working in harsh, unsafe conditions. Children this age often do not have access to education and must work to assist their impoverished families.
By only considering child poverty in terms of economics, Linda Gumelar, Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Minister, is worried that many other aspects of childcare will be overlooked. “The issue of development of children can’t be separated from successes in women’s empowerment and the achievement of gender equality in families,” she said. Healthcare, education, sanitation are all factors to be addressed.
Gumelar continued to discuss how Indonesia must break down child poverty into rural and urban areas, wealth distribution and other geographical distributions before the government can truly understand how to begin to solve the problem. A five year development plan is already being implemented; however, there are concerns over administrative monitoring and funding for certain regions.
Although those at the conference would like to see local communities taking on these child poverty programs, there have been problems in the past with unaccountability and lack of progress in less monitored areas.
With a more centralized approach, the children’s programs can be consistent and ubiquitous around Indonesia. With the government’s goal of reducing Indonesia’s overall poverty rate from over 10 percent to 8 percent, the reduction of child poverty and child labor is an admirable addition to the five year plan.
– Mary Penn