Celebrating the International Day of the Girl Child with the MAMPU program News

10 October, 2019

To celebrate this year’s International Day of the Girl Child, we are highlighting the important advocacy work of the Australian-Indonesia Partnership for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (MAMPU Program) around ending child marriage in Indonesia.

Indonesia has one of the highest rates of child brides in the world. According to the 2016 report by Indonesia’s Statistics Agency and the United Nations children’s fund (UNICEF), one in four girls in Indonesia is married before she turns 18. Recently, a revision of Indonesia’s marriage law in September 2019 raised the minimum age for marriage from 16 to 19 years old to help curb child marriage. Nevertheless, concrete actions such as providing access to education, including on sexual and reproductive health and rights to children and adolescents, as well as, promoting gender equality at the grass-roots level, are necessary for the law to be effectively applied.

The MAMPU program is working with partners such as Aisyiyah – one of the largest Islamic women organisations in Indonesia – and the Women Health Foundation to change attitudes and increase access to information and services for women in order to eliminate child marriage.

Working at the village level

The MAMPU Program, in collaboration with Aisyiyah, worked in the Mamuju regency, which has the second highest rate of child marriage in West Sulawesi province. They helped pass a village regulation preventing child marriage in the Pati’di Village, which came into effect on 24 April 2019. Widespread unregistered child marriage and high maternal mortality ratio of teenagers contributed to the urgency of the regulation. It focused on preventing child marriage through educating and empowering children and their families, providing knowledge about sexual and reproductive health rights, offering counselling to families, and strengthening administrative processes to stop child marriage.

Breaking taboos around sexual and reproductive rights

Recently, the MAMPU hosted a session entitled ‘My Body, My Rights’ at the International Conference on Indonesia Family Planning and Reproductive Health (ICIFPRH) with three community-based organizations. The session was used to share data and stories of child marriage as well as discuss various advocacy initiatives – from the grassroots, to national levels.

“One of the main challenges in ending child marriage in Indonesia is that sex education and information for children and adolescents are very limited and considered as taboo”, said Nanda Dwinta, the Director of Women’s Health Foundation Indonesia.

Involving young people

In order to promote greater understanding of the importance of youth advocacy on these issues, MAMPU, in collaboration with partners, organises Youth Health Forums. Theses Forums are designed to build the capacity of grassroots youth groups to enable them to better engage in collective action and push for the fulfilment of sexual reproductive health rights in their communities. In August 2019, 33 participants between the ages of 15-24 met to find solutions to the problems of child marriage and the lack of comprehensive information available about sexual and reproductive health rights.

MAMPU partners empower women, young and old, through evidence-based advocacy, establishing women’s groups, supporting small business, as well as creating multi-stakeholder forums to advocate for increased government funding for reproductive health services. Their work is essential in making sure that policies such as the newly amended marriage law reach everyone in Indonesia.

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