The Environmental Warrior Women of Indonesia


For the indigenous people, especially the indigenous women, their lands are the most significant aspect of life which should be preserved. Their lands embody the cultural and spiritual values. Cultural and spiritual values could be associated with many sectors including the spiritual relationship with sacred places, the animals, and plants which live in the lands and water, and the commercial activities. Therefore, when their lands (related to the environment) are threatened or destructed by the ignorants or even by nature itself, the indigenous women are the frontliner to tackle those issues, just like a mother protects their children.


CNA Insider mentions that Indonesia is the biggest contributor to plastic waste in the ocean and it could be seen that the landfill has been running out of spaces (Nie, 2020). Not only about plastic waste, the soil in one of our land in Indonesia, specifically Bali, has been affected by the chemical due to the excessive use of chemicals fertilizer (Life on The Island, 2017). The good news about this issue, the grassroots women in Indonesia provide practical solutions and create positive impacts on their surroundings. The projects are ranging from waste management, collective education for the community, to the empowerment handling the natural environment. 


In this article, Women in Tourism Indonesia would discuss several women who put their time, energies, and life to empower the community tackling the environmental issues and so as to always remember their dedication to conserve our land, Indonesia - #1YearFlourishingWomen.



Wiwik Mahdayani

Pursuing higher education in Tourism Destination Management at Université Bordeaux Montaigne, Wiwik is one the Indonesian women who strive for a better quality of sustainable tourism and ecotourism in Indonesia. Her passion for tourism led her not only to work with the Ministry of Tourism in France as their contract employee but she also earned the chance to participate in NGOs based in France which promotes ecotourism and sustainable tourism. Her forte in ecotourism also brought her to work with UNESCO, managing the development of ecotourism as well as heritage tourism in Indonesia. She also entrusted to organize a strategy marketing of sustainable tourism in the tourism village at GIZ (Germany and there are many more about her experiences which cannot be mentioned all in the tourism sector which attests her passion for evolving the world of tourism in Indonesia. 


Wiwik, the author of The Green Traveler, considers that ecotourism is a part of sustainable tourism. In ecotourism, people who visit tourist destinations have full responsibility in protecting the environment and culture as well as supporting the growth of the local economy without having to set aside the experience of being tourists. Committed to developing tourism in Indonesia, Wiwik creates a platform named DESMA center which aims to bridge and involve the government, private-owned sector, and local people actualizing the tourism attraction as sustainable tourism without neglecting many aspects such as economy, social, culture, and environment. DESMA center also provides several services like Tourism Development, Tourism Training & Education, Tourism Digital Platform & Information Technology, and Sustainable Mice and become the driving force in developing tourism through sustainable tourism.


Irene Sohilait 


Irene is an Ambonese woman who concerns about the environmental issue around Ambon, Maluku. Receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and a Master’s in Environmental Science in Universitas Gadjah Mada, now she is well known as an Environmentalist and Waste Specialist. Her specialty in the environmental aspect first led her to work with a United Nations Development Program as waste management in collaboration with the Ambon Government in 2006-2009. Passionate and becoming an expert in waste management, later she was entrusted to be the public servant and received a promotion to be the Chief of Integrated Waste Management at the Environmental and Waste Department of Ambon City Government. During her time being the Chief of Integrated Waste Management, she was in charge of managing and recycling Ambon’s city waste. 



Irene in the stated that the main environmental issue in Mollucas Province is the lack of awareness of local people about the management of garbage resulting in the bay covered with trashes. Therefore, the Green Mollucas community and local NGO called KAMBOTI foundation are created to accommodate and provide a simple solution for the locals about the waste issues. Irene was famous for her two big projects called Bank Sampah or ‘Waste Bank’ and Sekolah Alam or ‘Natural School’. Her project called ‘Waste Bank’ is intended for the local people so they could bring over their waste to the Bank and receive money, vegetables, or even stationary for the children as the exchange for bringing the waste. Meanwhile, Sekolah Alam is Irene’s idea to provide some educations for children in landfills area and educate the children about English, environmental lessons, and a healthy lifestyle in order to elevate children’s life quality. 


Rubama Nusa 


After her region was severely damaged by a tsunami in 2004, Rubama Nusa, as the pioneering woman who aspires to save her land, fights for a better quality of life for Aceh communities and forest conservation (the Leuser Ecosystem) in Aceh. 

In her interview with Andy F Noya in May 2020, she told that women were the ones who heavily impacted in the damaged forest caused by the tsunami. They experienced water scarcity which influenced their life. Local people cannot get enough water to drink, wash, cook, resulting in economic decline. To help the communities recovered from the disaster, she joined a program from NGOs and learned community-based waste management in Calang, Aceh Jaya. From that moment, she has been actively working on the grassroots level to empower women and protect natural resources. Rubina trains local people to create handicrafts, upcycle trash, and turn Gampong, Nusa, Aceh to be the tourism destination. Moreover, her passion for the environmental issue inspired her to also participate in a local NGO in Aceh called HAkA (Hutan, Alam dan Lingkungan Aceh) of Forest, Nature, and Environment of Aceh and she serves a program officer. Looking at her dedication to improve Aceh to be a healthy environment for local communities, she is well-known as the Inspirational Women Pioneers of Village Independence in 2017. 


Maulita Sari Hani 

Maulita Sari Hani, well-known as Lita Hutapea pursued her education in Tourism at Universitas Indonesia and STPT (Sekolah Tinggi Pariwisata Trisakti) then continued to pursue a master’s degree in James Cook University, specialized in Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism. Enjoying performance arts like dance and music, she began her career in the development of community-based cultural tourism in 2000. Not only does she have a spirit of enthusiasm in dance and music, but she also develops a strong interest in ecotourism and sustainable marine tourism. Her love for cultural performance and nature became her strong foundation to keep continuing her journey to conserve and formulate many projects about marine and coastal areas in Indonesia. 


Lita, as the marine wildlife enthusiast, worked with non-governmental organizations and public owned organizations to enhance the economic, social, and environmental aspects of sustainable marine tourism. In 2016, she worked as a Marine Tourism Consultant for WWF focusing on sustainable marine wildlife tour operations (Manta Rays Watching). In 2017, she was entrusted to work with the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (Indonesia) developing community based marine tourism in Wakatobi and Lombok. Moreover, in the same year, she was also involved in a project focusing on mangrove ecotourism in the coastal area and the small island in Bitung, Lombok, Kubu Raya, and Ambon. For recent years, she worked with Conservational International as the Elasmobranch Project Coordinator managing the sustainable development of Shark and Ray Tourism in Eastern Indonesia. Lita, as the founder of Lintas Ekowisata Indonesia (Indoecotours), also commits to support marine wildlife conservation and empower the communities to develop sustainable tourism. As stated in her blog,, she plans to spend the rest of her life conserving ecotourism in Indonesia.

Giyan Antari 


Born and raised in Bali, Giyan understands fully about the development of rice fields around her neighborhood. These days, many rice fields are contaminated with chemical pesticides affecting the soil and water of the field. The local farmers aimed to transform the contaminated rice field to be the chemical-free rice fields but they did not know how to begin. Giyan as the co-director of Kul Kul Connections bridges the local community of Sibangkaja with the international community of Green School Bali. Kul Kul Connections accommodates the mission of Green School to be an inclusive community and helping the local community to be able to share their experiences as farmers for the international community. One of the projects from Kul Kul Connections is called the Organic Transition Rice Planting Project. Through this project, Giyan and her community are successful in realizing the local farmer’s desire to produce the chemical-free rice in the collaboration with the international communities in Green School. 


Ralph Waldo Emerson in her book entitled Nature mentioned that all objects of the natural environment around us support our existence in life. Plants, animals, sun, wind, and land work together to fulfill the human’s physical necessity. Irene Sohilait, Rubama Nusa, and Giyan Antari are the three of many warriors women who conserve their native land and empower local communities to be involved in actualizing a healthy environment. Nature has provided us with many resources for us to live, now, it’s time for us to go back to our communities helping the locals to protect our land! 




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Life On The Island. (2017, April 11). Sawah Bali: The Organisation Preserving Bali's Rice Fields. Retrieved from Now Bali:

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Photo Courtesies: Women’s Earth Alliance,,






Artikel ini dipublikasikan pada laman | 9 September 2020