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Sharing Stories in the Sorghum Fields


Presentation and sharing session by WEHRD Summit 2023 participants. (Siti Maemunah)

Samdhana Hosts Women Environmental Human Rights Defenders Summit in Adonara

From 20-26 May 2023, the Samdhana Institute brought together women from eight countries in Southeast Asia for a meeting entitled Southeast Asia Women Environmental Human Rights Defenders (WEHRDs) Summit 2023. The event was co-organised by the Larantuka Socio-Economic Development Foundation (Yaspensel) and the Agro Sorghum Flores Foundation (Yasores). 

Comprising women from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, the WEHRDs delegation gathered on Adonara Island in the East Flores Regency of East Nusa Tenggara province in Indonesia. Here, they camped out in the sorghum fields near the coastal village of Pajinian; an inspiring location for an inspirational event.

The summit focused on various issues, from ecosystem protection, food security, and sovereignty to recognition and protection of community rights. The participants agreed on at least four common challenges faced by women environmental human rights defenders in Southeast Asia: the multiple burdens carried by women, due to stereotypical gender roles and expectations; gender-based violence; participation in political discourse and decision-making processes; and oppression by government and corporations.

The summit revealed that many women are seeking solutions to these problems, becoming increasingly active in their families, their communities, and in political spheres. Strategies include the formation of women's groups to protect community forests, and challenge male domination over participation, and working to influence policy holders by encouraging government to establish community forests.

The summit in the sorghum fields of Adonara island featured a full schedule of discussions and seminars, covering youth engagement, digital campaigns, female solidarity, and the involvement of men and children. By meeting and sharing their experiences together, this multinational community of women were able to share experiences, identify challenges, devise solutions, and derive strength from solidarity with sisters from around the region.

This is a shortened version of the full report on the WEHRDs Summit 2023 by Siti Maimunah. To read the full report, click here.



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