Green Press Community 2023: Media Narratives and the Role of Women in Marine and Coastal Conservation
November 13, 2023
Climate Change threatens human life with long-term adverse impacts. The Society of Environmental Journalists (SIEJ) and the Green Press Community strive to build awareness and collaboration to face this crisis, encourage concrete action, and preserve the environment for a better future.
During the two-day Green Press Community 2023 conference, Fildza Nabila Avianti and Muhammad Soufi Cahaya Gemilang from the Ocean Climate Research Group at Anggraeni and Partners made significant contributions. The Society of Environmental Journalists (SIEJ) focused on highlighting the role of women in marine and coastal conservation. This emphasis was evident in a dedicated panel featuring a diverse group of inspiring women from various fields, including journalism, activism, and notable NGOs like The Nature Conservancy and Econusa, all committed to environmental conservation efforts.
There are five key takeaways of the panel, they are:
Ecological Situation of Coastal Areas in Indonesia: The coastal areas of Indonesia currently face serious ecological threats, due to both climate change and other environmental degradation. One example of this degradation is the expansion of shrimp ponds, which leads to the cutting down of mangrove forests and marine pollution.
Environmental Impact on Women Fishermen: This environmental damage has a significant impact, especially on women working as coastal fishermen. Gender issues in this context are not only about women but also about the overall social dynamics in coastal communities.
Panel Discussion by Elin Yunita and Asmania: Elin Yunita, Deputy Women Editor at Liputan6, discussed the situation in Cilacap and Nusakambangan, which are threatened by illegal logging and limestone mining. Meanwhile, Asmania, an activist from Pulau Pari, highlighted the conflict between Pulau Pari residents and corporations like Artha Graha Group, which are undertaking large-scale reclamation.
Struggle of Women Fishermen of Pulau Pari: Women fishermen of Pulau Pari strive to preserve the marine and coastal environment through various efforts, such as planting mangroves. However, these efforts are hindered by the reclamation activities conducted by corporations, which also result in many residents’ homes being bought or employed by these companies.
Presentation by Hilda Lionata on Sasi in Papua: Hilda Lionata from TNC discussed the practice of sasi in Southwest Papua as a method of natural resource conservation by indigenous communities. The integration of sasi with scientific knowledge and the formation of Women’s Sasi Groups in Kapatchol Misool Village demonstrate the important role of women in maintaining the sustainability of natural resources.
The keynote speech of the panel was given by the former Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Ibu Susi Pudjiastuti. She emphasizes the ocean as a major asset, warning that harming it equates to damaging the Earth. She advocates for cooperation among various parties, including the government, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, civil society, women’s communities, journalists, and corporations, to align climate change goals.
While acknowledging the importance of industries in generating revenue, Susi highlights the environmental impact, citing Lake Toba’s transformation into a tourism spot. However, she notes the overshadowing presence of large corporations in the area, which displace small farmers and impact the environment.
Susi points out that industrial activities have polluted Lake Toba, affecting water quality. She urges business owners to understand their environmental impact and not solely focus on resource exploitation. To address these issues, she stresses the need for unified action involving civil society in negotiations with stakeholders, indigenous communities, and businesses exploiting natural resources.
Susi also urges Indonesians to actively participate in tree planting as part of combating climate change, which leads to droughts and environmental instability. She explains the rising temperatures on Earth because of climate change, evidenced by prolonged dry seasons and irregular rainfall patterns in Indonesia.
Asmania, a member of the Women’s Movement Group of Pulau Pari, speaks about the community’s struggle against corporate greed harming the island’s environment. She describes how the women of Pulau Pari are determined to preserve the marine and coastal environment, regularly planting mangroves. Despite their efforts, large-scale reclamation by corporations like Artha Graha Group negates these efforts, harming the ecosystem and livelihoods. Asmania criticizes the government’s apparent support for these corporations and shares the community’s determination to resist exploitation and preserve their homeland.
At the conference, Fildza Nabila, the Senior Research Associate at Anggraeni & Partners, asked about the challenges TNC encountered when they wanted to accommodate the women into the sasi practice, a traditional practice that was mainly conducted by men. Hilda from TNC explained that the challenges do not only come from the men but the women as well. She explained that initially, there were some doubts among the women if they could practice sasi. There is also the challenge of mobilization. The practice of sasi was done using the free-diving method, a method that only select women in Misool village were able to do, given how far removed the women in the coastal community from the ocean, among others is due to the dominant patriarchal structure. So, TNC conducted training on free diving for the women in Misool village. Sasi was able to be conducted by the women when the men can become a great ally to the women. In Misool village, the men support the women’s role in conservation, therefore creating an inclusive and gender-participatory approach to protecting the marine environment.
*These notes have been summarized to provide an overview of the main issues discussed at the conference, focusing on the role of women in preserving the coastal and marine environment.
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