Millennials’ Voice: An emerging movement to combat stunting


Millennials and youngsters are the front runners of innovation. Representing almost 30% of the total population of 238 million in Indonesia, they offer great potential to Indonesia’s emerging development. They are the future actors as well as future parents. Having studied the importance of millennials’ involvement as regards innovation and V4CP experience, it is a great opportunity to go forward and beyond, especially involving millennials as one of the key actors in Food and Nutrition Security.

There is a saying in Indonesia, ‘anak muda masih bau kencur’, which means ‘youngsters are just about to start learning, so they lack knowledge and experience’. Though this saying is deeply embedded in Indonesian culture, a shifting phenomenon shows millennials increasingly lead innovation, digital technology, and business development in the country. Thinking of engaging millennials in Food and Nutrition Security should be mainstreamed to speed up the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals 2: Zero Hunger (SDG2).

Yuni Setyaningsih, Technical Officer Advocacy Food & Nutrition Security, SNV Indonesia
Arif Sapta Aji, First Winner of What Millenials Want 2020

Why are millennials so crucial in tackling stunting?

Four out of ten children in Indonesia are stunted, making it one of the top five countries with the highest stunting prevalence worldwide. In the short-term, stunting[1] increases children’s risk of poor brain development, growth restriction, and metabolic programming disorder. This later causes lower cognitive levels and higher risk in developing non-communicable diseases related to nutrition in their adulthood. More than 65 million (~70%) Indonesians are in the productive age in 2030. Millennials[2], especially those between the age of 20 and 35 years old, are commonly in their reproductive age. As millions of millennials enter parenthood, they are the heart of stunting and other forms of malnutrition prevention and reduction efforts. Raising millennials’ awareness of a healthy lifestyle and stunting will contribute to preventing their children from malnutrition and stunting for generations to come[3]. They will be the next leaders of Indonesia; therefore campaigns targeted toward millennials should be soon initiated as Indonesia is entering a demographic bonus in 2045.

Participants in the What Millennials Want competition.

Participants in the What Millennials Want competition.

Participants in the What Millennials Want competition.

Participants in the What Millennials Want competition.

Kick-starting a movement

The Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP) programme believes that millennials should be provided space to play a greater role in making change and benefiting communities at large. Earlier this year, V4CP in collaboration with The National Team for the Acceleration of Poverty Reduction (TP2AK) Office of Vice President of Republic of Indonesia, held Millennials Voice for Stunting in celebrating the Indonesia’s 60th National Nutrition Day.

As a preliminary event, V4CP conducted a What Millennials Want (WMW) Survey and Essay Competition in which millennials and youngsters across Indonesia from multidisciplinary backgrounds and professions crafted ideas on their role in prevention and stunting. Three winners and the top ten best essays were selected.

Together with two winners of Semethon 2019 - Sociopreneur Competition by V4CP and Transform in West Nusa Tenggara Province - and a high school student from East Nusa Tenggara Province (the province with the highest stunting prevalence in Indonesia), WMW winners presented their ideas on their role and commitment to stunting prevention in Millennials Voice in Jakarta on 22 January 2020.

About the Semethon winners 2019: 1) Mie Clarias demonstrated their noodle product made of catfish with health benefits of high iron levels to prevent anemia for women and pregnant women, and 2) Morikai showcased their Moringa oleifera superfood products with rich of vitamin and mineral. Inspirational millennial speakers and well-known Indonesian public figures also talked about what millennials have to offer for stunting prevention, as well as what millennial influencers can do to campaign for nutrition and health at scale. Aside from the main spotlight for millennials, the country’s key actors directly responded toward millennials speakers’ aspirations and ideas. After the event, aspirations from millennial speakers and audiences would be submitted to the national government. At the end of the event, all participants vowed on the following:

  1. Commitment to actively participate in sharing educational information about food and nutrition as well as stunting prevention and reduction in Indonesia.

  2. Commitment to actively participate in ensuring inclusive and sustainable policies in food and nutrition security, especially for fellow millennials.

  3. Commitment to actively participate in sharing experiences of evidence-based best practices on food and nutrition for a healthy and productive generation.

  4. Commitment to be the agents of change in supporting millennials to lead the stunting prevention movement.

  5. Commitment to encourage creativity and innovation by making use of technology and available resources.

Though millennials’ awareness of stunting is gradually increasing, there is a very limited platform for millennials participate in stunting prevention and reduction. Millennials and youngsters are essential yet often neglected on food and nutrition security in Indonesia, especially on stunting prevention and reduction. Most stakeholders predominantly focus their interventions on those who are in the period of first thousand days of life (or so-called 1000 HPK): the group of pregnant women, lactating women and children under two years old, and children under five. Only two out of 104 nutrition-specific policies aim at improving youngster’s health and nutrition (IFPRI, 2019). This unfortunate situation demands a bottom-up movement to complement.

Following the declaration, the alumni of the event decided to take Millennials Voice further. They are committed to leading other millennials groups on stunting prevention and reduction through the platform of Millennials Voice against Stunting (MVaS).

“I often asked myself, are we heading toward demographic bonus or demographic disaster? Millions of children suffer from stunting, and now is the time to build a healthy generation of the future. Investing in nutrition is the same as investing in the future. This is our chance, as millennials, and we want to make this happen.”, said Arif Sabta Aji, First Winner of WMW 2020.

Millennials Voice against Stunting sees that millennials are the generation of fast-changing technologies. The Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association (APJII, 2018) reported that internet users in Indonesia are mostly millennials between 20 and 30 years old. Creating a platform for millennials with an interest in nutrition is a cost-effective initiative to expand the coverage of public health messages and information. For the online movement, the platform is designed to be the primary domain for millennials to find online content and information about nutrition and stunting prevention. Regular campaigns on #MillennialsVoice will be conducted through various social media accounts.

Online and offline activities are planned to raise awareness of healthy lifestyles and stunting prevention. The platform aims to reach out nationwide by having hubs in various provinces, which will hopefully later become a national movement. The platform tries to build a solid partnership with governments, youth and/or millennials organisations, development partners, and the private sector. After all, millennials are ready to take the lead to prepare future generations, Indonesia’s Golden Generation 2045, for a better Indonesia.

For more information, watch this summary clip from the event or this full recording (in Indonesian).


[1] Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience as a result of malnutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation. Stunting in early life - particularly in the first 1,000 days from conception until the age of two - has adverse functional consequences including poor cognition

[2] Millennials are those who were born between the year of 1981 to 2000

[3] Stunted children will be more likely to give birth to stunted children in the future, creating an intergenerational cycle of malnutrition.