Just less than a month after attending the Mid-term Review of the 2013 Asian and the Pacific Ministerial Declaration on Population and Development (MTR-APPC) in Bangkok from 26-28 November 2018, it was uplifting to hear that the Indonesia’s Constitutional Court had recently ruled that the 16 years old minimum age requirement for women to marry, as stipulated in Indonesia’s 1974 Marriage Law, was unconstitutional. In their decision, the court orders lawmakers to revise the Marriage Law, especially regarding the minimum age of marriage for women, within a maximum three years. This decision was celebrated positively by local SRHR activists, despite their concern that the lawmakers must immediately revise the law. This due to the fear that the “pro-child marriage” agenda will be used by the Presidential candidates as a political strategy for the upcoming national election in 2019, in order to galvanize support from the conservative groups.
During the MTR-APPC, the head of Indonesia’s national delegation, Mr. Nofrijal from the National Population and Family Planning Coordinating Board (BKKBN) reiterated the Indonesian government’s commitment to addressing harmful practices, such as child marriage, female genital mutilation, as well as other forms of gender based violence in his official speech. The delegation also mentioned the importance of accountability mechanism in order to help them to meet their responsibilities and commitments.
While these updates seem to imply good progression towards the advancement of some areas of SRHR, without accountability, these decisions and commitments will only remain in the outcome document. Accountability is important, as it helps to determine who is really responsible for achieving SRHR, and to expect those responsible to provide an account of how they fulfil their responsibilities. Furthermore, accountability is crucial as it also promotes a focus on what matters in order to avoid SRHR violations. In countries with complex governance systems like Indonesia, it is important to question, how do the decision makers define responsibilities and identify the division of labour? how are they enforced? Do they have the necessary resources to do so?
Indonesia’s SDG Platform as an asset?
Aside from strengthening accountability mechanism, one of the key issues that were discussed during the MTR-MDPD was the importance to link the achievement of ICPD Plan of Action (ICPD PoA) with the 2030 SDGs agenda. Since 2016, Indonesia has been a spearhead for the SDG nationalization processes. A special governmental secretariat has been officially formed in 2017, that is responsible to lead the development and dissemination of the Presidential Decree on SDGs which was released in the same year. Following that, Indonesia has been committed to report their Voluntary National Review (VNR) document for two times in 3 years: 2017 and 2019. The National Action Plan on SDGs is being formulated, with strong engagement from Civil Society Groups, private sectors, and academia in the process. Among all the agreed national indicators, some SRHR-related indicators have been adopted, including indicators related to the elimination of child marriage, gender based violence particularly among children, female genital mutilation, as well as the information and services on SRH.
Additionally, in order to reduce the gap between financial needs and the available funding to support the achievement of SDGs, Indonesia recently launched SDG Indonesia One platform to attract support from the private sectors. So far, the platform had already raised US$ 2.3 billion.
As Indonesia envisions to be the global SDGs champion, it is important for us as civil society organizations and activists to make the governments accountable for their commitments. We still need to advocate for the full acknowledgement and realization of SRHR, particularly Sexual Rights in the achievement of ICPD PoA. In the 2013 MTTR, Indonesia expressed their reservations towards the outcome document, noting their strong opposition towards the use of Sexual Rights in the outcome document. Analysis of gaps and strong advocacy must be strengthen in order to achieve the full range of SRHR in the country.
To do that, it is important to advance the meaningful engagement of all people in the SDGs processes. Leaving No One Behind should not be used only as a mere jargon, this spirit must be implemented through real, tangible, accountable efforts to involve and mobilize everyone, including the marginalized groups, to be the actors of SRHR advancement in their communities.
Ryan Febrianto is an active member of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YCSRR) from Indonesia. He is currently completing his masters degree in development studies from the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University, the Netherlands.