The two women environmental defenders explain how disasters entail losing what matters the most to them, which is not just land and livelihoods but also community bonds and traditional practices. Since all of these are closely linked to their sense of identity, their loss also affects their adaptiveness and resilience. These experiences of loss are lived as disasters themselves.
In Kakay’s view: “Since I was young, I witnessed how the corporate plundering and concessions devastated our forest and caused heavy erosion of the mountains, while floods that affected our rice paddies and vegetable gardens.”
Against these challenges, environmental defenders protect their identity, community, and environment and ensure their well-being through various forms of mobilizations, addressing the impacts of the development projects. They also proactively work to address the root causes of vulnerabilities via education, building solidarity, supporting marginalized groups, and lobbying to ensure socio-environmental justice.
In Indira’s work, she focused on empowerment efforts: “We are initiating a capacity development [project for] indigenous people, especially the indigenous women through education and economic empowerment. We are forming an indigenous women’s group that has several awareness campaigns such as adult literacy classes, environmental conservation and right-based approach classes including alternative income-generating activities. We are focusing on empowering indigenous women and advocacy to policymakers.”
The SEI Asia miniseries on women environmental defenders explores how women defenders across Asia are challenging the structural causes of disaster vulnerability, seeking socio-environmental justice and equitable decision-making in disaster risk reduction efforts.
Listen to the podcast below: