May 23, the 2023 South East Asia Women Environmental Human Rights Defenders (WEHRDs) Summit officially opened, taking place in West Adonara District, East Flores Regency, Indonesia. Dozens of indigenous peoples and local communities from Southeast Asia attended this event.
The SEA WEHRDs Summit aims to foster knowledge exchange on environmental damage, climate change, and sustainable practices. It provides a platform for sharing stories, experiences, and skills related to these issues. It showcases inspiring examples of good practices and innovations in maintaining the environment, such as sustainable agriculture, local food campaigns, organic products, handicrafts, and local food processing. The initiative also facilitates dialogue with various stakeholders, including government agencies, legislators, academia, private sector, and media, to garner support for forest conservation/restoration and forest-friendly livelihoods. Ultimately, it seeks to establish a Southeast Asia network of Indigenous and local women and young women who actively engage their communities and different sectors to enhance food production, livelihoods, and forest conservation/restoration efforts.
Joining the Summit are IPLC women and a member of the LGBT, coming from various communities in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines and Indonesia.
Participants from the Philippines come from the Higaonon, Talaandig, Manobo, Tboli and Calamian Tagbanwa tribes. Through this event, they are able to meet other WEHRD from indigenous communities. From the preparatory period when the participants arrived, up to today’s opening ceremony, they have been sharing and learning from one another’s experience, knowledge, and culture.
This event is taking place at Maria Loretta's sorghum plantation in Waiotan, Pajinian Village. Maria Loretha, is pleased to be able to host a delegation of women defenders, environmentalists and human rights activists from various countries. In her speech, Maria again reminded us of the role of women in the life process from the beginning to the end.
“Women are involved in the production process, from planting food sources, harvesting, and serving dishes at the dinner table. It's amazing," said Maria.
In Pajinian Village, the women plant sorghum, which is a source of food for the residents. In fact, this location is the largest producer of sorghum in the Province of East Nusa Tenggara (Nusa Tenggara Timur/NTT). This cannot be separated from the role of women. This early on, the WEHRDs Summit is already celebrating the fact that women are the mothers of life.
Participants from the local community, students, and representatives of the East Flores Regency government attended the event's opening.