Keywords: Advocacy, Programs, Family, Millennials
The future of the Indonesian nation is in the hands of younger generations. Given this reason, the government must prepare its productive population to become excellent human resource. The role of the National Population and Family Planning Board (BKKBN) in the national development is highly strategic with respect to the nurturing and preparing the human resource, both in terms of quantity and quality. BKKBN has carried out socialization and advocacy for the Family Development, Population, and Family Planning Program (Bangga Kencana) to prepare Indonesian human resource. According to the results of the 2020 Population Census administered by the Statistics Indonesia (BPS), the Indonesian population is dominated by Generation Z and Millennials. The proportion of Generation Z is 27.94 percent of the total population while Millennials is 25.87 percent of the total population of Indonesia. In terms of demographics, the entire Generation X and Millennials consist of individuals in the productive age group in 2020. Meanwhile, Generation Z consists of both productive and non-productive age group. In approximately seven years, everyone in the Generation Z will enter the productive age group. This is both an opportunity and a challenge for Indonesia, presently and in the future, as these generations have the potential to be actors of development that will determine Indonesia’s future.
Generation Y, or better known as Millennials, is the generation of individuals that are born in the years between 1981 to 1994. Presently, they are between 25 to 38 years old. In terms of the reproductive period, all of them fall in the category of childbearing age, regardless of their marital status (married, single, widowed, or divorced). The Generation Y is the generation of first adopters of technology, such as mobile phones, computers, and internet. Naturally, they are savvy users of instant communication technologies such as email, Short Messaging Service (SMS), WhatsApp, and so forth. In general, this generation is highly inquisitive and extremely creative. They thrive in an environment where less rules apply, and they are drawn to openness and transparency.
The Bangga Kencana program targets adolescents and productive age population to ensure they are properly educated and to prevent premarital sex, child marriage, and drugs use. Indonesia is projected to experience demographic dividend in 2030, and Indonesia needs to ensure its readiness to benefit from it. The demographic dividend will not bring any use if the human resource is not properly prepared. Therefore, educating adolescents and young people about family formation is a must. It should not be delivered only in pre-marital counseling setting but should be continued during marriage as a preventive effort to prevent issues such as stunting, by emphasizing parenting roles in the first 1000 days of life (HKP) in families with children under five years. Stunting in children under five years can lead to decreased productivity and quality of human resources. The rate of stunting, a condition when a child is too short for her age, fell from 37.2 percent in the 2013 Basic Health Research (Riskesdas) to 30.8 percent in the 2018 Riskesdas (Ministry of Health, 2013 and 2018). While stunting trend in Indonesia has decreased, this issue remains a key priority to the World Health Organization (WHO). According to WHO, stunting is a public health problem if the prevalence rate reaches 20 percent or more. Using this standard, the percentage of stunting among children under five years of age in Indonesia is still high and is a public health problem to address.
According to the 1991-2017 Indonesian Demographic and Health Survey (IDHS), the fertility rate in women aged 15-19 years old among 1000 women (ASFR 15-19) experienced a downward trend, from 67 (1991) to 36 (2017). However, the number of women who become pregnant and give birth to children when they are themselves adolescents (ASFR 15-19) is high in Indonesia. One reason is the high-risk dating behavior that can lead to unwanted pregnancies and child marriage. In addition, mothers who are younger than 21 years old at their first pregnancy and childbirth face higher health risks because their uterus and pelvis are still developing. Moreover, they may not be mentally ready to be mothers. Other risks include premature birth, hemorrhage that may result in the death of the child or the mother, cervical cancer, and the mother’s inability to care properly for the child. The likelihood of stunting is also higher among children who are borne by young mothers (Finlay, Ozaltin, and Canning, 2011). It is worth noting that stunting creates a burden for the family and the country.
Adolescents need to be provided with family formation knowledge for youth (PKBR), considering that the rate of marriages under the age of 20 in Indonesia is still high. Indonesia is one of the countries in the East Asia and Pacific region with the highest number of child marriages. This indicates that child marriage needs to be seriously tackled not only by the government, but also by all members of the society. In recent decades, the rate of child marriage has declined, but remains persistently high. According to the National Socioeconomic Survey (Susenas) conducted by the Statistics Indoesia (BPS) in 2012, among women aged 20-24 years, 25 percent were married before the age of 18. Meanwhile, based on the 2012 Indonesia Demographic and Health Survey (IDHS), 17 percent of women aged 20-24 years were married before the age of 18 (BPS and Unicef, 2016). The 2016 National Socioeconomic Survey (Susenas) data recorded around 1.1 percent of women aged 20-24 were 15 when they first married. Meanwhile, around 22.4 percent of women aged 20-24 years were below 18 years old at first marriage. Data from the Statistics Indonesia in 2017 revealed the significant prevalence of child marriage, namely more than 25 percent in 23 provinces in Indonesia. As a program, PKBR is designed to realize resilient adolescents by encouraging healthy lifestyle, preventing the triple risks of reproductive health in adolescents (sexual behavior, drug abuse, HIV/AIDS), delaying age at first marriage, giving them the proper ideals of a healthy, prosperous family as the pathway towards family formation, and equipping them to be the example, role model, and inspiration for their peers.
Adolescents need to be prepared to enter family life by building their resiliency and economic capacity. This is to ensure that, as families and future parents, they are able to optimally fulfil eight family functions: religious, social, affection, and compassion, protection, reproduction, education, economic, and socialization. Couples need to understand the ideal ages at first marriage and childbirth, i.e., at least 21 years old for women and 25 years old for men. Delaying the age at first marriage and childbearing will have positive psychological and physical impacts in terms of readiness as parents. 21-35 years old are ideal childbearing age, since the physical condition and anatomy have matured at these ages. Meanwhile, pregnancy in young women of below 21 years old may cause several risks, including: labor complications due to underdeveloped uterus and pelvis; inhibited fetal brain development; low birth weight (LBW) of less than 2500 grams; breastfeeding failure; and insufficient care for the child that may lead to illnesses, even child mortality (WHO, 2011). These risks will have implications for the family, especially the economic burden may arise.
There are 10 dimensions of family readiness that must be fulfilled, namely: age, physical, mental, financial, moral, emotional, social, interpersonal, life skills, and intellectual readiness. In addition, it is also important to plan ways to build relationships between partners with other families as well as social groups, plan the birth of the first child, prepare themselves to become parents birth spacing, use of contraceptives, to stop childbearing at 35 years of age to allow the mother to provide optimal childrearing, as children, especially under give, need physical attention, affection, and sufficient stimulation. It is also important for mothers to avoid health risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth at a later age.
Bangga Kencana includes a program called tribina, a three-prong program that targets families with children under five (Bina Keluarga Balita), families with adolescents (Bina Keluarga Remaja), and family with elderly (Bina Keluarga Lansia) as well as Youth Information and Counseling Center (PIK-R). PIK-R is a forum for family life preparation for adolescents (PKBR), which is managed from, by, and for adolescents. In PIK-R targets school-age adolescents to youth up to 24 years old or are not married. As a forum of information, education, and communication (IEC), the adolescents in PIK-R act as peer- counsellors and educators. The primary mission of PIK-R is to prevent risks of reproductive health associated with promiscuous sex, drug abuse, and HIV/AIDS and to prepare adolescents for family formation. PIK-R also promotes delaying age at first marriage, provides life-skills training, counseling services, referrals, network developments and support, and other supporting activities according to the characteristics and interests of adolescents.
Currently, there are diverse types of media that are close to the daily lives of millennials and Generation Z who are less familiar with the BKKBN programs. At the same time, they account for the largest groups in the Indonesian population and are the key targets of BKKBN programs. To be able to communicate with them effectively, Bangga Kencana must be delivered through a combination of conventional campaign methods, such as home visits, group meetings, and gatherings, with the new methods, i.e., using written, electronic, and virtual media. The written media can be in the form of leaflets, booklets, posters, stickers, books, newspapers, magazines/journals that can be easily carried anywhere, or banners and billboards placed in strategic and easy-to-read places. Electronic media in the form of radio and television are also important, especially for family planning promotion through talk shows or creative other creative IEC activities.
Moreover, Bangga Kencana promotion through the cyberspace has become compulsory for BKKBN or the local Family Planning unit (OPD) in provinces and regencies/municipalities. Considering that the young target groups have a strong presence on social media channels, Bangga Kencana must also keep abreast with the trend and start establishing its social media presence, such as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube. Bangga Kencana can start producing practical IEC materials in the form of short films, animation, public service advertisements containing interesting information using images or short writing that may be more likely to millennials who are heavy users of gadgets/smartphones.
Millennials and Generation Z are very active in using their devices to access various applications. In response, BKKBN has provided several choices of applications that are interesting and easy to understand, including the “Siap Nikah” (Ready to Marry) website. The website contains information relevant to the needs of the Generation Z and millennials in preparing for married life, childbearing, and childrearing. The goal is to make sure that every couple is properly equipped before they form a family. The website is part of the strategies of BKKBN and Rumah Perubahan to be a partner of Indonesian families and help them raise healthy, quality families. Pre-marital education is important, as from the future parents we will have the future generations that determine the future of Indonesia.
The Family Life Preparation Program for Youth (PKBR) aims to make Millennials and Generation Z prepare for family formation by equipping them with the knowledge about family life and childrearing, economic knowledge, psychological readiness, and social maturity. The goal is to have strong, resilient families in terms of their economic capacity, physical and mental health, and social life, which in turn will bring better future generations. From the economic perspective, the individuals who are ready for marriage are individuals who are economically stable and are able to access economic sources, and this may terminate the chain of structural poverty.
In the past, BKKBN might rely just on conventional counseling, video tutorials or leaflet distribution to promote its programs. Today, and for the Millennials and Generation Z, creative new approaches are needed. As the generations that are technology-literate, adopters of social media, and that may easily find information, the social media are the current preferred source of information. A social media channel also needs to appear relevant, up-to-date, and using the same language as these young target groups – even managed by their peers. To approach them, BKKBN positions itself as a ‘friend’ of the Millennials and Generation Z, involving them in campaign and information delivery activities, including in PKBR and ‘Siap Nikah’ website that is age-appropriate and easy to access.
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Researcher at the Center for Population and Policy Studies of Universitas Gadjah Mada