Indonesia’s child-friendly city (CFC) programme started in 2006 in Surakarta City, as part of a substantial series of Government economic and policy reforms that began in 1998.

Before the Government declared the initiative in 2006, UNICEF had previously introduced the Child-Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) in Surakarta, a heritage city that was once an ancient kingdom and that continues to preserve centuries-old Javanese culture.

UNICEF based its works on the nine CFC building blocks developed by the International Secretariat for Child-Friendly Cities at UNICEF’s Office of Research-Innocenti. A longtime partner of UNICEF, the then Surakarta Mayor, Joko Widodo, embraced the concept and mobilized resources to support the city as the first CFC pilot area in the country. Joko Widodo is now the president of the Republic of Indonesia.

Having learned from Surakarta’s experience, the Government led efforts to mainstream the CFCI in other cities. The Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection (MoWECP) introduced the initiative to 10 other cities in 2007 and to 20 more in 2010.

A Ministerial Decree in 2009 stipulates that child-friendly city development is a systematic approach for mobilizing commitment and resources to ensure all children’s rights are fulfilled, protected, respected and promoted. In 2011, the ministry convinced Indonesian President Susilo B. Yudhoyono of the importance of the CFCI. The president then instructed that at least 100 cities implement the initiative by 2014. The directive was embodied in a Presidential Decree in 2014, entitled the Child-friendly Country of Indonesia.

City administrations responded positively, which gave the Government the confidence to quickly amend Child Protection Law 23/2002 and add the CFC framework to new Child Protection Law 35/2014. The law states that a CFC is a manifestation of a city that has child-rights-based development systems.

A new champion then emerged: Surabaya, the second largest city in Indonesia after Jakarta, transformed itself in 2016 into a child-friendly megapolis. It has since won the CFC award, sharing the honour with Surakarta.

Surabaya’s urban development now aims to cultivate an atmosphere where families are strengthened, provide places where children develop positive twenty-first-century skills, and nurture an ecosystem where children are safe and community parenting is strengthened. The city embraces the principle that ‘All Surabaya children are our children’, nurturing a collective effort to protect children.

UNICEF believes that CFCs will substantially increase efforts to fulfil the rights of children in Indonesia. Therefore, UNICEF has promoted the two cities globally, including by organizing Growing Up Urban: Surabaya in 2018, a meeting of mayors from East Asia and the Pacific. The meeting produced the Surabaya Vision, which emphasizes that the city of the future is one that provides services for all children, creates a society for all children, and builds infrastructure and sustainable urban environments for all children.

Region: South Asia; Topics: Education