Saving The Children
    Category: Issues & Ideas By : Renjani Puspo Sari Read : 1340 Date : Saturday, September 13, 2014 - 10:19:08

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    In the comIng few months, Linda Gumelar will end her position as Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. She has a major interest in children issues, including preventing child sexual abuse and helping children from low-income families. Sitting in her house in Kebayoran Lama, Linda talked to Forbes Indonesia about what she has done and issues in safeguarding Indonesia’s children.

    You would like all Indonesian children to have a free birth certificate. what’s the progress on this goal?

    When I was visiting the outermost regions and disadvantaged areas, I found many children didn’t have birth certificates. Their parents also did not understand the importance of this paper. So I signed a memorandum of understanding with eight other ministries related to this goal. We need to accelerate this program to make sure all children have free birth certificates. We have made good progress. In 2009, only 55% of children under five years old had birth certificates. In 2011, about 64% of total 82 million children, up to 18 years old, already have one and the number has increased to 73% in 2013. We encouraged local governments to regulate these documents. Today, almost all local governments have implemented this rule.

    How does this program affect the children of illegal migrant workers?

    Government has regulations to protect migrant workers, including illegal ones. This implies that they have a right for their children to get birth certificates. But the problem is that many illegal workers are not registered in the registry office, and they don’t have a marriage certificate, which is required for obtaining a birth certificate. As they are living abroad, the Foreign Ministry will protect them. We have coordinated with the Foreign Ministry and Religions Ministry to do an isbath [a legalization of the unregistered religious wedding] and documents for the children. Currently, the program is still running. For kids of unmarried couples, they still can be documented only in their mother’s name or in both parents’ names as long as there is DNA proof showing the biological relation between this child and their parents.

    SOE Minister Dahlan Iskan suggested a two-year maternity leave for women workers. What do you think of this idea?

    I’ve talked about it with Minister Dahlan and I agree with his view. Women are now part of the workforce. But the dilemma comes when they are pregnant and must quit their job. It’s a big loss for companies. These workers are already experienced, trained and skilled. While at the same time, they should breastfeed their babies, which our ministry encouraged them to do. So, I think the government should consider giving a longer leave period for a mother or alternately to a husband and wife who are both laborers. In other cases, companies could also allow mothers with babies sometimes to work at home during the first two years. The policy can be implemented step by step, by first starting in the state firms. But the most important step for us is to continue encouraging companies to provide lactation rooms and daycare for the children of the staff. What is needed now is a commitment from the public and local governments.