We have heard a lot of women’s involvement in tourism in Java. But today, we want to take you out to Nihaone, a village located in Boleng, Adonara, Flores Timur, East Nusa Tenggara. On a small island called Adonara in the east part of Indonesia, there are fully spirited women who are involved in local tourism activity and management. Generally, women in Nihaone take a role in the family welfare movement (PKK) whilst there are informal organizations grouped by Nihaone ethnicity: Dosinaen, Laganaen, Atakelan, Balepapan, Lamalouk. The women of each tribe have a strong bond, they often gather on special occasions such as wedding/funerals/people’s party.
How Nihaone’s Women Make an Impact on Local Tourism
The majority of Nihaone’s women contribute to tourism by making souvenirs such as Kewatek (woven cloths) and Titi Corn (specialty local food). Some women there also build souvenirs or food stalls at Ina Burak Beach, one of the village's main attractions. There is also Tourism Awareness Group (POKDARWIS) in Nihaone. The group is newly formed, it has been operating for approximately a year. Given the early experience, the group only has five members, which all of them are men.
Nowadays, many women in Nihaone take part public sector. This is caused by the development of education and women's awareness to achieve higher education. Some girls have to study on another island due to the lack of higher formal educations on one particular island, like Adonara.
However, for those who did not get the opportunity (like mothers), they participate in a training program held by women associations in each tribe to be an expert-weaver. Moreover, they also spend their time making Titi Corn each day. Interestingly, the widows are also facilitated in special cooperative associations to increase family well-being.
Meet an Inspiring Woman from Nihaone: Mama Vero
There is a powerful woman who has a significant role in empowering local culture in Adonara. Veronika Ratumakin, who is commonly known as Mama Vero, is the founder of the Cultural Art Studio in Adonara. She often holds theater performance outside East Nusa Tenggara in order to promote East Flores culture and tourism. She also routinely teaches traditional dances called Hedung and Nige to the children in the community.
The First Woman Leader in Nihaone: Kak Atris
Kak Atris is the first female civil servant who works in Nihaone village management. She is also entrusted to manage the village, which is used to lead by men. Aside from becoming a mother herself, she also does an administrative role in the Balepapan tribe.
She once had the opportunity as the chairwoman when initiating the business entity for the village (BUMDes), which aimed to help tourism management in Tourism Awareness Group (POKDARWIS). Through this meeting forum, Kak Atris is encouraged to argue and share her ideas.
Contributor’s Note on Women’s Involvement in Nihaone Tourism
As Nurry observed, family support is an essential factor for women who actively engaged in the public sector and tourism - regardless of the fact that tourism is relatively new in Nihaone where the majority of residents work as farmers. Nevertheless, some families still adhere to traditional patriarchy. For instance, the traditions do not allow wives or daughters to work outside the domestic role. However, this condition still brings an opportunity for women to take part in traditional festivals as they still have to prioritize household matters.
“I saw that there was an enthusiasm coming from the ina-ina (mothers) in Nihaone Village in regards to pioneering tourism development there. When we met in the volleyball court to hold a meeting, they usually prepare snacks, tea, and coffee for the ama-ama (fathers). Actually, the ina-ina were also paying attention to the meeting. Outside the forum, in fact, the ina-ina gave some ideas to us (the volunteer) about the meeting. Indeed, they have not been brave enough to speak up directly in the meeting forum because they feel that the forum denotes masculinity in the practice.” - Nurry
Accessibility is essentials for Nahaone. On one hand, the majority of the community relies on farming to generate income because tourism is a new thing for them so it is hard to make tourism as the main livelihood. In fact, the geography of East Nusa Tenggara is not suitable for farming because they often experience crop failure during the dry season. On the other hand, the community still holding onto the local tradition. When someone is passed away, for example, they should hold a funeral ceremony for 5 days and butcher two pigs and prepare so many other offerings. This event could cost them fortune so many of the community has to lend some money to celebrate this local tradition.
“This has come to the conclusion that information access about farming, economic management, and education is really important for them. That is why I expect the community could give access to women to participate in the economy to promote family well being.” - Nurry