08 Mar Coral Triangle Women Leaders: Protecting Coral Reefs in Atauro Island

The reefs around Atauro Island in Timor-Leste hold the world’s highest reef fish species on average. A biodiversity survey in the waters of Ataúro Island, situated 36 kilometres north of Timor-Leste’s capital Dili, conducted by Conservation International in July 2016 revealed that the island hosts the highest average fish diversity globally

However, many of the reefs around Atauro Island have been damaged due to human pressure. The challenge is to raise community awareness through visual materials and household waste management education activities with the women in the community.

Women Leaders in Timor-Leste are Taking Action!

In Timor-Leste, women leaders who are part of the CTI-CFF Women Leaders’ Forum Intergenerational Learning Program is tackling the challenge of coral reef protection and marine resource management!

Alda Sousa is Senior staff for Fish Processing and Quality Control at the Fisheries Gender Focal Point in Timor-Leste. She has experience in community fish processing, training activities, establishment and implementing fisheries gender programs, fisheries laboratory management and quality control.

She believes collaborative leaders are leaders who can interact well with the local community to change the mindset and actions of communities to behave in a more environmentally sustainable way. Alda is looking forward to the relationships between mentor and mentee to interact and cooperate well for a common purpose to produce something of value together.

Esmeralda dos Santos graduated in 2015 from the United Nations-mandated University for Peace Headquartered in Costa Rica. She works at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries as a gender focal point and has completed numerous trainings on Marine Protected Areas Design and Management.

The meaning of leadership for her is the ability to contribute significantly to an organization, a team or a cause and be an instrument to Gender equality. She believes the best leadership qualities are personality, confidence, humility, self-awareness, integrity, passion, courage, honesty, charisma, maturity, compassion, self-confidence, and optimism. Esmeralda hopes the Women Leaders Forum will add to her knowledge in marine and coastal conservation in the Coral Triangle so she can contribute to the region.

Alda and Esmeralda will tackle the conservation challenge to restore reef productivity by awareness raising and waste management in Atauro Island, Timor-Leste. Alda and Esmerada understand the value of fisheries resources as both have established careers at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. They will tackle the conservation challenge of human pressure degrading the reefs in Atauro Island, Timor-Leste which holds the world’s highest diversity of fish species before it is too late.

The CTI-CFF Women Leaders Forum Intergenerational Learning Program is being implemented by the US Department of the Interior and the Coral Triangle in Center, in collaboration with CTI-CFF Regional Secretariat and CTI-CFF National Coordinating Committees and funded by USAID.

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