Youth Groups on Reproductive Health to Reduce MMR and Early Marriage
Concerned with the high rate of Maternal Mortality Rate and early marriages, WRI initiated an advocacy program on sex education and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for youths, as part of society that contributed significantly to the high MMR. Therefore, since June 2013, WRI has been running a program on adolescent reproductive health in Jakarta, Bandung, and Gunungkidul. However, different to the ones in Jakarta and Bandung, the program in Gunungkidul is a subsequent program from the previous research.
Several current developments have been achieved in the program, such as capacity building of youth groups, problem mapping of adolescent reproductive health issues, selection of cadres and facilitators, seminars, and discussions.
Issue Mapping of Youth Issues in Gunungkidul, Jakarta, and Bandung
Results of the issue mapping of the most common problems among youths regarding sexual and reproductive health are as follows:
1. The high rate of early marriages. In these areas, most youths aged 16-18 are already married. Early marriages can be caused by several reasons:
- Culture. In Bandung, a single and unmarried 18-year-old would be considered as an old maid.
- Pre-marital pregnancy
- The lack of knowledge about sexuality. Many teenagers in these areas are unaware that sexual intercourse may lead to pregnancy.
- Financial factors, causing many youths to be married off as soon as they finish elementary or junior high school.
- The inadequate access to education and drop-outs from school.
4. The high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), which is also influenced by the great number of young mothers (under 20)
5. The lack of Jamkesmas (National Health Insurance) services
6. The lack of health services, which could not accommodate the needs of youths in reproductive health and information regarding reproductive health.
As one of the first steps, WRI held a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) in Gunungkidul on 18 September 2013. This discussion was held to obtain an overview of the youth forum in Gunungkidul which organizes youth capacity building, especially in reproductive health issues. This activity was held by 6 organizations, namely PIKR Kartanu, PIKR Al Hikmah, PIKR Tunas Harapan, PIKR Bendungan, LSPP, and Kelas Remaja Putri. Out of the 6 organizations that were present, 4 were already active in counseling activities, peer-counseling, and other youth empowerment activities; while the other two are new organizations that are still in the process of designing programs.
However, these six organizations have the same objective, which is to enhance the quality of youths in Gunungkidul, both in knowledge and capacity. They have routinely conducted youth capacity building activities although they still face various obstacles, such as funding, human resources, time, etc. Moreover, the activities and programs that they held are still limited to catering to the practical needs of youths in Gunungkidul. These organizations are still not concerned in the strategic sector, such as providing recommendations and advocating to the regional government on the policy and budget for youths. Therefore, they need assistance, both material and non-material, to support and improve their performance in empowering youths in Gunungkidul.
In response to this condition, the Women Research Institute may take several actions to strengthen these organizations, for instance by facilitating capacity buildings according to the theme needed by each organization. Moreover, WRI could also assist in educating youths on advocacy as well as accompanying during the youth advocacy process regarding policy and budget to the regional government.
Programs for Gunungkidul have been carried out since February 2014. Analyzing activities on youth groups have been carried out, and three groups that will be WRI’s program partners have been chosen. These groups are Pokak Lincah Ceria (Police) in Karangawen Village, Kelas Remaja Putri (KRP) in Ponjong Village, and PIK-R Bening Hati in Al-Hikmah Islamic Boarding School Karangmojo Village. Subsequently, these youth groups will carry out the programs that have been designed under the guidance of WRI.
Jakarta and Bandung
Different to the program in Gunungkidul that had several youth groups as a means of advocacy, the programs in Jakarta and Bandung initially did not have such facilities. WRI started its program in these two big cities by mapping health issues, particularly regarding youth reproductive health.
In Bandung, the issue-mapping started in October 2013 in cooperation with the Regional Coordinator of Bandung. WRI visited 5 organizations in Bandung City and Bandung District, such as Sapa Institute, PIKR (an organization established by BKKBN) Bandung District Solokan Jeruk Sub-district, Budget Discussion Forum (FDA), PKBI West Java, and Media Citra Remaja (MCR).
As a result of the reproductive health issue mapping in Bandung, on 14 November 2013, WRI held a seminar entitled “Sex Education and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights for Youths” at Bumi Asih Jaya Hotel. The objective of this seminar was to enrich the information regarding the current condition of adolescent reproductive health in Bandung. Therefore, youth organizations and NGOs in Bandung which focus on issues of sexuality, reproduction, and youths were invited to attend this seminar.
In Jakarta, the mapping was also started in October and was carried out by visiting two youth organizations that are concerned in sex education and adolescent reproduction, namely Independent Youth Alliance (ARI) and Rumah Panda Faculty of Public Health UI. On 18 December 2013, WRI held a seminar under the same theme in Grand Kemang Hotel, South Jakarta.
Since January 2014, issue mappings and more concrete actions have been started by the field facilitators in Jakarta. Several youth groups will be formed, both at school and in communities in this region. Until today, WRI is still attempting to obtain a permit letter from the DKI Jakarta Provincial Department of Education in order to hold reproductive health discussions for youths in schools in Jakarta. It is thus apparent that support from all parties, particularly the government, is imperative in ensuring the success of this program.