2014 PFF Community Leadership Fellow McGill University:
Women's Cooperative in Sama Bahari, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia
Melody graduated from McGill University with a B.A. Joint Honours in Geography and Environment, and a Minor in Economics. Her interest in human geography and her curiosity in Southeast Asia brought her to rural Indonesia for six weeks during the summer of 2013. During that period she collected data for her honours thesis on ethnic Bajo livelihoods in Sama Bahari, southern Sulawesi, Indonesia. Her experience in this village motivated the project she is currently pursuing.
Melody is returning to Sama Bahari to develop a women’s craft cooperative. Sama Bahari is home to approximately 1700 Bajo people, most of whom rely on the surrounding marine ecosystem for their livelihoods. However, fish stocks in the area are depleting while surrounding coral reefs are facing increasing pressures from climate change and more direct anthropogenic forces. Providing alternative livelihood opportunities such as this craft cooperative can act to reduce dependency on the marine ecosystem, leading to reduced vulnerability for local people and potential benefits for conservation. At the same time, many local women are unpaid for the much of the work they do. Empowering women through this craft cooperative will not only promote gender equality but also increase the efficiency of the local economy.