Meaningful Youth Participation

Youth Participation is Crucial and Not Necessarily Rhetoric

Help youth to make them be able to help themselves. This expression is adopted from a well-known phrase on people’s development: Help people to (make the people be able to) help themselves. While youth are initially the beneficiaries of the programs conducted by Rutgers WPF Indonesia in collaboration with partner organizations in the field, youth representatives have also been involved in the preparation stage of a program to adjust the program materials to the specific target group. By acquiring the knowledge and skills during their participation in the program, youth are presumably empowered to conduct the following activities:

  1. Share their information and knowledge with their peers, both individually and collectively in a group.
  2. Provide consultation by providing answers according to the condition of their community
  3. Make an informed choice and decision regarding the current issues.
  4. Initiate action, or become a role model or agent of positive change for their community.

These are the types of youth participation once they have the opportunity to fully involve in the program. Below are some of the examples.

dance4life

In the dance4life program, youth agree to conduct the activities above and become agent4change in their community.

Operational Research on Youth from Youth, by Youth and for Youth

Rutgers WPF Indonesia and its partner organizations gives an opportunity for youth who have been trained to participate in empowering the marginalized youth, i.e. those in the juvenile detention centers, those with diverse sexuality, difabled or homeless youth. In the Access, Service, Knowledge (ASK) program, youth take part in conducting a study to enable them to develop a program to improve Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services. The study, known as operational research (OR), includes the following activities:    

  1. Media Mapping, obtaining data from ASK partner organizations regarding electronic/mobile channel strategy that has been developed and the information that has been conveyed.
  2. Qualitative Research, acquiring data from youth who have or have not accessed the media that has been developed by ASK partner organization.
  3. Content analysis, collecting data on its consistency, relevance, and content of the message in media that was prepared by the partner organization.

The findings of these studies are highly useful for the development of communication media that can be accessed by youth, as explained by Vivi, a community mobilizer of SeBAYA from the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (PKBI) East Java chapter:

 “We, particularly the outreach staff have learned to understand what our community or friends (who joins social media of the SeBAYA) need. Operational Research (O.R.) serves as our means of evaluation in presenting educational materials that are most sought after or most needed by youth that cannot be found anywhere else. In addition, O.R. also helps us to find out the baseline knowledge on SRHR possessed by youth in our partner community. We’ve learned so much from our experience in conducting the O.R.”.

National Conference on Youth Sexuality: IYDC

Youth participation was demonstrated at the Indonesian Youth Diversity Celebration (IYDC) that was held in 2014 in Bandar Lampung. The youth celebrate their diversity in fulfilling their sexual and reproductive health and rights. The event was organized by the One Vision Alliance and PKBI Lampung.

The following testimony comes from a participant from Bali, I Nyoman Cakra Wibawa regarding the event:

“I am so excited to meet with youth from all over the country and see how they fight for SRHR. They have really inspired me! The IYDC is one of the coolest events I’ve ever had. I’ve learned from this event that people of all ages with different walks of life can make positive changes”.

Youth’s potential participation in the program that raises awareness on sexuality and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is explicit in Nyoman’s last statement. Whether we realize it or not, youth participation has given an added value to every young individual and increased their sense of ownership on the idea of positive change that was initially promoted by Rutgers WPF Indonesia and eventually ensures sustainability of the program.