Rindah Melsen: Pushing boundaries for women in conservation
These are the words of 49 year old Rindah Melsen of Nusatuva island of the Western Province of the Solomon Islands.
Rindah, who is a proud mother of three, was selected to speak on the work she does in her community at the “Healers of our Ocean: Asia-Pacific women leading ocean action to achieve SDG14” event and the event The Coral Triangle – Partnerships to Achieve SDG 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for the sustainable development) in the World’s Epicenter of Marine Biodiversity.
“My talk is all about women as better managers of our ocean resources. As a woman leader from a coastal community, I am passionate about marine resource management as they are our source of food and income,” she said.
Rindah says women of Melanesia have the potential to play a major role in resource management.
“We women are usually the primary users of these resources; we clean, cook and even sell the whatever the family produces or catches at the market, whether it be fisheries resources and I have encouraged and led the women and girls in my community to venture into other alternative livelihood options as a way to help reduce the fishing pressure on our reefs.”
Rindah says the move to manage their marine resources, led her to work closely with WWF which supported her community in engaging in financial inclusion trainings in addition to fish data collection.
The financial trainings led to the creation of the Nusatuva Women’s Savings Club which was initiated in 2014 by WWF; to encourage savings and generate a funding pool for small-scale business development for women.
Rindah who is the President of the Nusatuva Women’s Saving Club, says what started off with SB$20 with 5 women in 2014 has now reached a savings of SB$25,000.30 with 64 members as women in the community began to see the benefit of being part of the initiative. Income generated from the micro-businesses, such as sewing, has enabled them to secure necessities for their households and pay for their children’s school fees.
To date 10 loans have been issued by the Savings Club to establish businesses.
From the profits generated, Rindah adds that one of the women has built herself a new home. Previously, the Nusatuva Environment Conservation Development Association (NECDA) which coordinates development in the community was male-dominated.
The success of the Savings Club has also brought recognition from the men, who now involve the women more in decision-making processes.
“When I go back, I will tell all my group members that we need to be proud of ourselves and be involved in decision making,” Rindah said.