This International Youth Day, A Call to Ensure We Leave No One Behind

August 12, 2021

There has been much talk about millennials leading more productive lives with more access to better education and job opportunities. While this might hold true for the majority, there are many who have remained on the sidelines. As we work towards full development, it is imperative that we take an ‘all of society’ approach.

When Desi’s husband lost her job during the pandemic, she stepped up to support their family and has been selling food via social media channels. The 30 year-old Jakarta resident is among millions of the so-called “millennial” and “generation z” population who have not seen the success that many of their peers may have experienced  in Indonesia. With talk of Indonesia’s potential “demographic bonus” with youth expected to be the engine of development, are these communities being left behind?

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has widened inequality. Furthermore, acquiring new skills, including professional diplomas, has been more challenging for many youth. Distance education is not easily available for all, and with the current unemployment rate of 6.7 percent in Indonesia, millions of young people are at a disadvantage.

While many young people are more empowered and have the skills necessary for work, they need support to thrive in these roles. Indonesia’s GDP has doubled in the past 20 years, which has created more opportunities, especially in terms of technological advancements. But population growth has pushed several communities to the periphery.

According to Statistics Indonesia, youth income remains in the low to middle category. Those aged between 25-29 years have an average income of IDR 2.9 million (USD 200) per month, which covers roughly 40  to 70 percent of the total living costs. In addition, many youth are expected to support their families, which adds to their financial responsibility.

Therefore, it is important to consider an inclusive approach when addressing the barriers faced by the youth. This includes young girls as well as individuals with disabilities.

Commemorating International Youth Day on the 12 August, we must recognize and nurture the young generation. UNDP Indonesia has been working with the government to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has supported the contribution of Indonesia’s youth UNDP’s Innovative Financing Lab (IFL) has provided benefits to over 17,000 people and has also provided training on social enterprises.

In line with the SDG goal of decent work and economic growth, IFL through its Youth Co:Lab provided seed funding technical support and mentoring for youth. Real-time surveys involving youth in collaboration with UNICEF, through U-Reports provided insight into youth perception of support for  entrepreneurship support. The research can help understand the impacts and the opportunities that  shape the current situation and plan for the future.

It is time we take a holistic approach to youth development as we work on leaving no one behind.


For more information on UNDP’s work on Youth and Entrepreneurship Support and other Youth-Focused activities visit: