Atlas Corps celebrates its 15th anniversary! It is time to celebrate the achievements of our amazing network of over 1,100 leaders from 110 countries and share stories on the global impact of our Alumni, Fellows, and Scholars.
Today we speak with Atlas Corps Scholar Elisabeth (Cohort 7, Indonesia) from our inaugural cohort of the Atlas Corps x @america: Indonesian Public Sector Leadership Initiative. Elisabeth works as a Special Task Force member at JAGA, an organization that engages civic participation towards government corruption in Indonesia. Elizabeth shares with us how she has applied the leadership skills gained from the Virtual Leadership Institute towards global impact.
Elisabeth, we are truly inspired by and grateful for your impressive work against government corruption. Thank you for sharing with us your global impact, as well as your personal and professional growth. We wish you the best with this impactful work!
Name: Elisabeth Medina Dewi Saraswati
Home Country: Indonesia
Current Organization: JAGA
Role at current organization: Special Task Force
Social Issues that you have worked with: Peace, justice and strong institutions, Sustainable cities and communities, Good governance
Tell us about projects you have worked on?
I am a Special Task Force Member at JAGA, which is a corruption prevention platform initiated by the Indonesia Corruption Eradication Commission. JAGA can be accessed through the website (www.jaga.id) and mobile apps which citizens can use anywhere and anytime. It encourages transparency and good governance practice in public services. In JAGA, there are public services modules that contain information regarding public services in health, education, village, and licensing area. Part of my role is to present to a range of Indonesian audiences on these public services.
My work at JAGA is to prevent and monitor corruption regarding COVID-19, in both the economic stimulus packages and the handlings of health workers’ incentive, vaccination, medical coverage, etc. JAGA launched JAGA Bansos (JAGA Social Aid) in 2020 and JAGA Penanganan COVID-19 (JAGA COVID-19 Handling) in 2021. As users, citizens can monitor, discuss, and file complaints if there are any corruption indications. Complaints will be received and verified by the JAGA team. Once it is completed, the JAGA team will forward it to the local government or responsible ministry. The JAGA team will follow up the complaint to the local government or ministry and oblige them to give feedback and solve the complaint. Until September 2021, JAGA users have reached 50,000 users and has solved more than 900 complaints on social aid and COVID-19 handling.
Currently, JAGA is aiming to increase public literacy, data utilization, and data analysis on public services so that it can become information that can be used in the prevention and early detection of corruption by organizing a competition called JAGA Data Challenge.
Why is it important for you to promote citizen engagement and government transparency?
An American economist, Dr. Robert Klitgaard, said, “Corruption equals monopoly plus discretion, minus accountability.” Simply put, fighting corruption can be done by enhancing accountability, which can be achieved by improving citizen engagement and participation. Examples of citizen engagement in promoting greater transparency include the promotion and use of access to information rights or open data to provide more and better information to citizens and giving the citizen a platform to give feedback or aspirations.
There is a theory which states that failures in government, such as poor service delivery, stem from a lack of accountability. If a lack of accountability within the public sector and related institutions are part of the problem, then citizen participation can seek this accountability directly from the government. Thus, with the input of public serviced data from the local government and responsible ministries and the feedback from the citizens itself, it is expected that by JAGA, the citizen engagement could be improved and led to a better government’s accountability.
How has Atlas Corps contributed to your professional and personal accomplishments?
Because the Special Task Force of JAGA consists of people of the same age, strong leadership is much needed because it possesses its own challenges. Through Atlas Corps, I cultivated my leadership skill from doing the course tasks and implementing the policy project. Also, the networking activities, such as the Peer Coaching Group Calls and Coffee Chats, open the new possibility for future collaborations with like-minded Scholars with passions similar to mine. Moreover, for my personal accomplishments, I recently secured a scholarship because my interviewer was impressed with my experiences during the Virtual Leadership Institute.
What is your favorite Atlas Corps memory?
I basically love learning new things, especially if the knowledge is new, practical, and can be implemented. This is what the Atlas Corps course was all about. I learned so much about new issues and terminology, such as cognitive bias, DEI, and intersectionality. As a social leader, it’s very important for us to keep up with social issues.
I also like how the courses gave us concrete and technical knowledge needed to be a leader, such as giving feedback, motivating others, problem-solving, team dynamics, and etc. Lastly, I am also surprised by how well-crafted and curated the courses were, proven by the elective we have about Pancasila. It shows how the Atlas Corps team really put in their thoughts about our local context, and how they want us to embrace our identity, culture, and beloved homeland.
What advice do you have for applicants and current Scholars?
Atlas Corps is a once-in-a-lifetime, wholesome experience that you will not regret so please make the best out of it. The Atlas Corps team has provided us with all that we need to develop ourselves as social leaders, so it’s really up to us how we are going to optimize these benefits. Be open to opportunities, know as many people as you can, spare some time to learn, and enjoy the ride!
What message would you like to send to individuals who support Atlas Corps?
You might hear this zillions of times about how talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. It’s true. There are still a lot of bright Indonesian youth with passion in social issues that need both networking and capability development. There are very little leadership programs in Indonesia that connects us with an international network and I dare to say that this Virtual Leadership Initiative is the first one. I hope this Cohort 7 will not be the last class in Indonesia because I genuinely think the program is insightful and rewarding, and I hope more people can get the same benefit that I got from the Virtual Leadership Institute.
On November 20, Atlas Corps celebrates 15 years of engaging social change leaders. Join us to honor our legacy of service with more than 1,100 leaders from 110 countries at the Atlas Corps 15-Year Anniversary Gala. We will convene friends of Atlas Corps from all sectors and regions of the world to reflect on 15 years of engaging social changemakers and inspire towards our future. Join to connect with our community, meet Fellows, and celebrate Atlas Corps!
Photos from the personal archive of Elisabeth Medina Dewi Saraswati