17 Jan Strengthening Women Leadership in Marine Conservation

Women are progressively more recognizable for their critical roles in natural resource management. However, in many places, they still seem invisible due to discriminatory social norms and lack of access to decision-making processes in the community. To improve women’s capacity in the environmental protection, CTC carried out a special training of leadership and basic marine conservation involving 18 selected women champions from different provinces across Indonesia.

The “Women in Conservation” training ran for five days, from January 13-17, 2022, in Bali. During the first two days, participants learned about leadership and communication skills at CTC’s Center for Marine Conservation in Sanur, while the remaining days were spent in Nusa Penida islands to explore marine conservation topics, conduct field excursions to mangrove forests and seaweed farms, and play exercises on reef health monitoring and marine protected area (MPA) design.

Participants came from five provinces in Indonesia, namely Lampung, West Java, Central Java, Bali, Maluku dan North Maluku. Some of them have background as a civil servant at the provincial marine affairs and fisheries agency, and some others are known for their prominent social positions at local women groups in the villages. The diversity among participants had brought the discussions to be more alive and deeper as each of them used different perspective to analyse each topic.

“As a villager who works every day picking blue swimming crabs, I found the training to be challenging at first. I was quite shy to speak up. However, I gradually learned that we are here equal and saying my opinion actually helped other participants to understand the complexity of marine conservation in different area,” said Susri Novita, a participant from the Kuala Teladas village, Lampung.

Another participant, Sarna Sibela from North Maluku, managed to sumarize some inspirational topics and activities shared by other participants to be implemented later in her place. Using her position as a fishery extension officer in Sula islands, Sarna highlighted the importance of having creative ways to raise public awareness about marine conservation.

“We have already established the Sula islands MPA in 2020, yet we still have more works to manage the area for it becomes beneficial to all. I will engage more youths and women in delivering key messages about MPA and using more appealing visual aids,” she said.

By using an asset-based approach, each participant was also asked to explore their own strengths and weaknesses during the training, so that they can identify the best way to make themselves visible and heard in any forums. This way, they could gain more self-confident to proactively share ideas and lead for community actions to protect and manage natural resources appropriately in the future.

This training also equipped participants with a new skill of reef health monitoring survey using the Point Intercept Transect (PIT) methodology. This method allows anyone to measure living coral cover and benthic substrates at 3 to 5 meters depth along 25 meters in length quickly and efficiently while snorkelling. Prior to this exercise, a brief basic swimming and snorkelling lesson was given to all participants at the pool to help them adjusting themselves in the water.

CTC wrapped up the trainings by taking participants to explore the beauty of mangrove forests and observe seaweed farms in Nusa Lembongan. The field trip aims to show evidences to all participants that an MPA, when managed effectively, can bring positive impacts to the local economy, which in return can support the costs of the overall MPA management. Back from the training, participants brought conservation plan to their respective area for the next six months, including individual commitments and roles applied in the plan.

Photo Credit: Yoga Putra/CTC

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