Friday, 26 May 2017

Menstruation matters for boys as well as girls

By: Liz Pick, Communication Specialist


The cover of the What is Menstruation? comic book for boys ©UNICEF Indonesia/2016/Tongeng


On 28 May, people around the world will mark Menstrual Hygiene Day calling for greater awareness about the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential. 

UNICEF Indonesia is joining the global voices to encourage education about menstruation to be extended to boys as well as girls. Some might ask: ‘But menstruation happens to girls, why do boys also need to know about it?’ 

Take this focus group as an example. Five boys, all sixth-grade students, sit in a circle in the school library and pass around a disposable sanitary pad. “What is it?” they have been asked by the group facilitator. Each student looks a little puzzled as he considers the flexible, white fabric object in his hands. Finally, one boy offers an answer: “Is it a face mask?” he guesses. 

Another student, Ariel, says he has seen one washed up on the banks of the river which runs through the village where people bathe and dispose of their rubbish. Dermawan is the only student who knows it’s a sanitary pad but he doesn’t know what it’s used for; only that his mother buys them at a stall in the market. 



A student reads through the girls side of the comic book
©UNICEF Indonesia/2016/Tongeng

In Indonesia, menstruation is considered a taboo topic and is not widely discussed. Many girls do not learn about it from their mothers or teachers but instead find out when they have their first period, which can cause feelings of fear, shame and embarrassment about this very natural bodily function.

Online polling in May 2017 by UNICEF’s U-Report revealed 17% of Indonesian girls report experiencing teasing and bullying by other students, especially boys, when they have their period. This can lead to them skipping valuable days of school each month to avoid unpleasant scenes. Over time, these missed days add up and can cause girls to fall behind in class or drop out altogether.

To combat this, in 2016 UNICEF Indonesia, in collaboration with the government’s School Health Program or UKS, published a comic book which explains menstruation using simple words and cartoon images suitable for young readers. Designed for children reaching puberty, the reversible book can be opened at either side – one for girls and one for boys.

Both sides of the comic book explain that menstruation is a natural monthly occurrence that makes it possible for women to have children.

Girls get more information about managing menstruation including good personal hygiene and sanitation practices, what to do if they feel unwell or experience pain, and how to cope if they get a blood stain on their clothes at school.

Boys on the other hand, are reminded to treat their female friends with respect, not to tease or make fun of them and to be helpful when needed.

A UNICEF team member facilitates the focus group discussion
with two students. ©UNICEF Indonesia/2016/Tongeng

Impressive results

Last year, UNICEF distributed the comic books to 50 elementary schools in highly urbanised Bandung City, West Java, and rural Biak Numfor District in Papua reaching at least 4000 boys and girls in both locations for the pilot project. Most teachers had the students read and discuss the comics during literacy lessons, while others wove them into classes such as religion, science or sports as well.

The results of the baseline and endline studies were stunning. After reading the comic in Bandung, boys’ understanding of menstruation as a normal biological process for girls increased from 60 per cent to almost 90 per cent.

Significant changes in attitudes were also measured. The number of boys who thought they should be respectful to girls who are menstruating rose to 80 per cent from 59 per cent) while 91 per cent thought they should behave better towards girls who are menstruating (up from 68 per cent).

The same trend was evident in Biak where 85 per cent of boys thought that girls should not be ridiculed, up from just 63 per cent before reading the comic.

Back in the focus group, the boys have finished reading the comic book. They take turns explaining what they have read, showing no signs of awkwardness as they correctly describe what menstruation is and why it’s important and can give clear examples of positive behaviour towards girls. It seems the message has been received loud and clear – menstruation matters for everyone.


This story is based on an earlier published article by Andi Bunga Tongeng (WASH Facilitator, UNICEF Makassar)


Monday, 15 May 2017

‘All Children have the Right to an Identity’: Registering Babies in Flores

By: Cory Rogers, Communication Officer 

  
Maumere, Flores: A 20-foot statue of the late John Paul II towers over the entrance to Bishop Girulfuls Kherubim Pareira’s office in Maumere, a town of 160,000 people deep in Indonesia’s Catholic heartland of Flores.

It was under John Paul II that the Vatican made social work a core mission of the Church; and here in Maumere, that vision remains potent, creating opportunities for UNICEF and Government to do more for children.
“We know we can’t just talk about spiritual needs at the Church,” said Msgr. Girulfis, who heads the Diocese of Maumere. “When you look at the condition of our people, it is clear we have to speak to their material needs too."

Friday, 12 May 2017

Youth Seek Seat at the Table on SDGs

By: Niken Larasati, Child Protection Officer
Ms. Hulshof, (center rear) joins the UNICEF team and youth participants for a photo following the forum.
©Raditya Henrile / UNICEF /2017

“People often discuss what should be done for people with disabilities, but they don’t often include us in their discussions,” Panji Surya Sahetapy of the Indonesian Association for Welfare of the Deaf said through an interpreter.

His message, delivered during a youth forum on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda was clear – in conversations about disability rights, people with disability need to be heard.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Champions4Children Call on Indonesia to Place Children at Heart of Development

By Liz Pick, Communications Specialist


The Champions4Children and Minister for Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Yohana Susana Yembise (fourth from right) pose with UNICEF Indonesia Representative Gunilla Olsson (third from right) and five young girls at the event in South Jakarta.
©Raditya Henrile / UNICEF/2017 


Jakarta: It is Sunday afternoon in Jakarta, a city of 10 million people, and it feels like most of them are at the Kota Kasablanka shopping mall.

“Children are our future leaders. They are the ones who will bring change to Indonesia in 25 years, in 50 years,” Indonesia’s Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, Yohana Yembise says, looking at a group of current leaders.

Sitting in the front row are a group of prominent Indonesians – leaders of government, business, civil society, the arts and academia – who have each committed to use their influence to fight for children’s rights in Indonesia. These are the UNICEF Indonesia Champions4Children.

The event is part of the Jakarta Marketing Week 2017, put on every year by UNICEF’s Business Champion, Hermawan Kartajaya and his company MarkPlus. On this busy Sunday, the audience is primarily families and it is to them that the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, Yohanna Yembise, speaks.

She urges all Indonesians to work together to end child marriage, end violence against children and empower young people to shape their future.

“We need to work together to protect all of Indonesia’s children – without discrimination. That’s my role as Minister. I hope you are all committed to join me in protecting our children and our future.”

The Champions are here to inspire ordinary people to take action that address the challenges children in Indonesia continue to face. Each one of them has a simple message to share with the audience – a message about working together now to protect the future.

One of the Champions is rising film star Dion Wiyoko. As a presenter of a popular TV travel show, he has explored many different corners of Indonesia. His passion for protecting this beautiful country comes through clearly as he speaks about his drive to improve sanitation and hygiene practices for a safer, healthier environment.

“I want everyone to know about UNICEF’s Tinju Tinja campaign,” he says. “During my trips through Indonesia, again and again I am surprised by how many people still defecate in the open because they don’t have a latrine. Many children fall sick or even die because of health problems caused by this.”

“The solution is not only building toilets, it’s also educating people to use them,” Dion says. “They need to know what the dangers are, what the impact is. We have to convince people everywhere to end open defecation.”

Dion helped launching the second phase of Tinju Tinja (which translates loosely as “Punch the Poo”) and plans on using his considerable social media presence to increase its outreach into communities across the country, when the campaign will be re-launched later this year.

Predictably, master storytelling teacher Ariyo Zidni has the crowd’s full attention as he talks about the importance of tapping into children’s creativity for their educational development. One way he does this is by facilitating storytelling workshops to provide psychosocial trauma healing for children and adolescents affected by natural disasters such as earthquakes and flooding, emergencies that happen regularly in Indonesia.
 
Champions4Children Dion Wiyoko (right) and M. Farhan (left) talk children's rights at the event in Jakarta.
©Raditya Henrile / UNICEF/2017 
 
As well as lecturing at the University of Indonesia, Ariyo is currently collaborating with UNICEF on a project to empower young people through digital storytelling to find solutions to problems caused by climate change.

Speaking after the event he says working with UNICEF has given him access to a wealth of information and data about children’s rights which has helped him better understand the issues children face in Indonesia and to improve his own practice accordingly.

“I support UNICEF because we have the same idea about the need to put children at the centre of Indonesia’s agenda,” he says. “As adults, we need to see through children’s eyes and look at the world from their perspective for all new ideas and designs.”

Likewise, well-known radio and TV broadcaster, M. Farhan says he supports UNICEF because its work for children aligns closely with his own core beliefs.

“UNICEF has important values and it works to help children’s rights from protection against harm and abuse through to education. That way, when they grow up they can also protect and fulfil the rights of the next generation of children.”

Farhan is a strong advocate for healthy living, education, and economic development to empower youth to achieve a better future for themselves. Proving he practices the healthy lifestyle he preaches, he shows photos from a triathlon he competed in while encouraging the audience to “be moved to move”.

“I want people not only to be moved and show empathy, but also to literally move and take action,” he says.

A murmur goes through the audience as the daughter of late President of Indonesia Gus Dur, Yenny Wahid takes to the stage. An active member of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest independent Islamic organization with 70 million members, Ibu Yenny has become a well-known social activist for inter-faith and multicultural dialogue in her own right.

She addresses the parents in the audience, urging them to listen to their children and teach them positive values so they can navigate today’s world.

“Parents need to maintain an open communication with their children. We can’t just tell them bedtime stories and then keep with our busy schedules. Communication is key. Otherwise, our children will not come to us when they have problems.”

Recently, the acclaimed former journalist gave her support to UNICEF during World Immunisation Week to encourage parents of all faiths to vaccinate their children against preventable diseases like measles and rubella.

Closing the event, Minister Yembise invited the Champions to her office to talk about how they can collaborate to implement children’s rights.

Friday, 21 April 2017

A Lesson in Gratitude

By: Yoan Mei Dyandari - UNICEF Indonesia Fundraiser


Yoan Mei (center) shares stories with schoolchildren in Pantaran Village, West Sulawesi. ©UNICEF / 2017 


Visiting Mamuju, a city in West Sulawesi, was an exciting opportunity for me. I was lucky to get to join the UNICEF team and Masagena, a local NGO, on a visit to Pantaraan Village where a “One-Roof School” (SATAP) has been built.
 
Supported jointly by UNICEF and Masagena, the SATAP schools combine primary education (grades 1-6) and junior secondary education (grades 7-9) in one compound. The aim is to make the transition to secondary education both physically easier and financially more feasible for poor students living in remote and isolated areas.

Getting to this particular SATAP, however, was no walk in the park: The road was littered with sharp rocks and pocked by potholes. The sun burned with searing heat.