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The Important Role of Young People and Women to Accelerate Papua’s Progress

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By : Charles Tabuni )*

Currently, accelerating development in Papua has become the Indonesian government’s main priority. No longer an empty discourse, this important agenda has been embedded in various national policies with the noble aim of ensuring that the Papuan people experience progress and prosperity in life. 

Not just a promise, the government’s serious commitment is reflected in Presidential Instruction (Inpres) Number 9 of 2020 concerning the Acceleration of Welfare Development in Papua and West Papua Provinces.

The accelerated development that has been underway offers some concrete evidence that Papua is on the right track. One of the most striking sectors is education, which is realized through the Smart Papua program. 

This program includes building schools and distributing scholarships. Furthermore, in the health sector, there is a Healthy Papua program which provides easy access to treatment and improvements to regional public hospitals (RSUD) in various regions of Papua. 

Development is also felt in infrastructure with the construction of the 3,462 kilometer Trans Papua road and supporting infrastructure for the implementation of the XX Papua National Sports Week (PON). All of these programs have penetrated to the rural level, ensuring that the benefits are not only felt in urban centers.

The acceleration program not only penetrates infrastructure and other vital sectors, but also creates significant changes in the social realm. The Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection (PPPA) and the Ministry of Villages (Kemendes) have implemented the Women’s Friendly and Child Care Village/Village (D/KRPPA) program with the aim of reducing stunting rates, increasing gender equality, protecting women and children, and fulfill children’s rights throughout Indonesia.

At a discussion event entitled “Empowered Papuan Women’s Forum, Encouraging Papua to Advance,” which was held in Jayapura City, last Thursday (19/10/2023), Astrid Ramadiah Wijaya, Head of the Legal and Human Rights Information and Communication Team of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics, said that Papua Province has become an example in the formation and development of DRPPA Women-Friendly and Child Care Villages in 2021. 

During the discussion, figures such as Betty Anthoneta Puy, Head of the Jayapura City Women’s Empowerment, Child Protection and Family Planning Service, and Jeni Karay, Co-founder of the Sehati Sebangsa Foundation, together with the participants, most of whom were from the young Papuan generation, were present.

Astrid also shared positive information that the Papua Province Gender Gap Index (IKG) had fallen from 0.535 in 2021 to 0.515 in 2022. This improvement is not only limited to one region, but also covers most districts and cities in Papua. This decline in IKG, as Astrid explained, was largely influenced by improvements in the reproductive health dimension.

Improvements in the dimensions of women’s empowerment have also played an important role in this change, such as increasing women’s representation in legislative institutions and the percentage of men and women with higher education. Improvements in these aspects are expected to have a positive impact on the economic, socio-cultural and educational sectors.

Betty invited Papuan women to make a bigger contribution to Papua and Indonesia as a whole. They must have the courage to play an active role in the world of politics with capacity, capability and integrity equal to men. 

In her efforts to achieve gender equality, Betty also encourages Papuan women to become economically independent and empowered in the field of education. This, according to him, will help create equal opportunities for men and women in all development programs.

Jeni added that the young generation of Papua needs to understand the importance of overcoming gender inequality to prevent gender-based violence which often occurs in households. He also reminded young couples to have a strong stance, not to ignore signs of violence in dating relationships, because problems that have not been resolved since dating can become big problems in marriage in the future. 

The quality of the family in the future is determined by the current younger generation’s awareness of the importance of women’s empowerment and its positive impact on gender inequality in Papua.

Deputy for Coordination of Mental Revolution, Cultural Advancement and Sports Achievement of the Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Culture, Didik Suhardi, emphasized that efforts to advance Indonesia must also include the Papua region. 

He explained that because Indonesia is trying to progress, Papua must also progress, like other regions. To achieve this, a strong spirit of mental revolution is needed in building togetherness, mutual cooperation across institutions, and involving traditional community leaders and Papuan youth.

Acting The Governor of South Papua, Apolo Safanpo, welcomed the ongoing efforts made by the central government to advance development in Papua. He emphasized that accelerating development in Papua is necessary because there are significant gaps compared to other regions.

With government commitment, Papuan women’s initiatives, and intergenerational cooperation, Papua has great potential to overcome gender inequality, create prosperity, and advance the region. 

Equal opportunities for men and women in various aspects of life is the first step towards a more just and prosperous future. Papua, as an integral part of Indonesia, has an important role in undertaking this journey, and with mutual support, we can make it happen together. 

Hopefully the future of Papua will be a reflection of the progress and equality that many people aspire to.

)* The author is a Papuan student living in Jakarta

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