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The Role of Women in Banda in Protecting the Sea

Coral Triangle Center and Photovoices International convened a joint study that highlights the importance of cultural aspects and women's involvement in sustainable marine resource management in the Banda Islands.

Bali, June 7, 2024—Coral Triangle Center (CTC) and Photovoices International (PVI) are collaborating to host a webinar titled "The Tradition of Sasi and the Role of Banda Women in Managing Marine Resources" on June 7, 2024. This event, held to commemorate World Oceans Day on June 8 and Coral Triangle Day on June 9, highlights the results of a gender and cultural study conducted by CTC and PVI on marine resource management in the Banda Islands.

This aligns with the theme of this year's Coral Triangle Day celebration, "Balancing Marine Conservation and the Blue Economy." The theme also emphasizes the importance of traditional conservation practice in marine resource management, such as sasi, an important instrument in the Coral Triangle region, home to the most diverse coral reef and marine biodiversity in the world. In Indonesia, Banda Islands is one of them.

Research Collaboration

In October 2023, CTC and PVI conducted joint research to understand the role of gender in marine resource management in Banda. Parallel to CTC's Gender Equity and Social Inclusion (GESI) study, PVI used the Photovoices approach to conduct a rapid assessment on women's roles in marine resource management in Lonthoir Island, Banda Islands. The GESI study aims to provide input for gender-responsive and socially inclusive interventions carried out by CTC in all its programs and in the Coral Triangle region. The overall goal of the study conducted by CTC and PVI is to explain the traditional views on the different roles of men and women and how to increase women's participation in sasi as a marine resource management system in Banda.

Gender studies on how to increase women's participation in coastal and marine resource management in Indonesia are still scarce. This case study in the Banda Islands is not only for practical purposes in the target area but also to support the effectiveness of sustainable marine resources in line with the Banda Islands’ tradition.

“CTC has been working in the Banda Islands since 2012 to protect the area’s rich marine biodiversity. We work with local communities to help establish marine protected areas, strengthen traditional marine management systems such as sasi, and help ensure that marine conservation is inclusive and provides benefits to the communities who depend on them for their livelihoods, said CTC Executive Director Rili Djohani. “In order for marine conservation to be effective, we must be inclusive in our approach, and empower both women and men so that they can fully participate in the management of their marine resources,” she added.  


In the mythology of the Banda people, the Banda Sea is considered a woman, fish are the descendants of Banda, the nutmeg tree is the fruit of paradise, and the land is the beginning of life. Culture is the root of life for the Banda people, and women in Banda play a significant role in preserving traditions, which also has a strong impact on the conservation of the sea and forests,” said Dr. Muhamad Farid, Rector of University of Banda Naira.

Research Results

The CTC-PVI study was conducted in three villages, namely Lonthoir, Run, and Ay, using qualitative methods and focus group discussions (FGD). The study involved 51 people, consisting of 26 women and 25 men, representing village governments, traditional organizations, youth communities, fishermen, education, and women's groups.

"CTC and PVI disseminated the results of the GESI study in the Banda Islands to explain traditional views’ influence on the different roles of men and women and how to increase women's participation in sasi to manage marine resources in Banda," explained Dr. Hesti Widodo, CTC Senior Program Manager.

Dr. Widodo said the study showed different perceptions about the roles of men and women in livelihood activities. For example, in Lonthoir, men believe that collecting canary is a women's activity, while women think it is both men's and women's work. For the women of Lonthoir, men's work is catching octopus, while men believe it is an activity for both. Similarly, in Run and Ay, women say they fish in the intertidal zone, while men think that fishing is their job and the intertidal zone is a men's area. These differing views are mainly due to the varying traditions in each village.

"Different perceptions are also seen regarding women's participation in the public sphere. Women are considered to be involved only in social and religious activities, while men are involved in economy-based organizations, even though women also play a role in economic activities," explained Ria Fitirana, Senior Consultant at Coral Triangle Center.

Ria added that regarding sasi, a tradition commonly found in the Maluku and Papua regions, it is still relatively new in Banda. The community is still in the process of adopting sasi as a system for managing marine natural resources, and it has only recently been declared by the village government.

Dr Ria Fitriani, Senior Consultant at Coral Triangle Center, having discussions with women participants in Lonthoir, Banda Island, during the gender study. (©Saharudin/PVI-CTC Banda/2023)

Involving women in marine resource management instrument such as sasi is important for managing resources and respecting women's rights as coastal village residents. Although, gender equality which focuses on equal opportunities is the necessary first step to increasing women's participation in marine resource management.

Through a participatory photography approach, PVI conducted a rapid assessment with eight women participating in Lonthoir, resulted in 28 photos that reveal issues stemming from problem mapping and have become issues driven by the participants. From the group discussions with Photovoices, the participants became more aware of the interconnectedness of marine and terrestrial natural resources and expressed a desire to be more involved in natural resource management. This shared awareness is also reflected in the participants' photos, which were later exhibited before stakeholders.

“They themselves presented, explaining the content of the photos to stakeholders, such as village government, village and traditional leaders, and residents. This was the first time ever the women express themselves in the public sphere and even be involved in discussing important issues," said Tri Soekirman, Executive Director of Photovoices International.

One of the men’s group participants in Banda Islands during the gender assesment pictured with Coral Triangle Center and Photovoices International. (©Saharudin/PVI-CTC Banda/2023)


About Coral Triangle Center

Coral Triangle Center (CTC) is a foundation based in Indonesia with regional scope and global impact. Established in 2010, CTC works closely with local communities, private sector, governments, and partners to strengthen marine resource management in the Coral Triangle to protect coral reef ecosystems, ensure sustainable livelihoods and food security.

We support on-the-ground conservation in Bali, Maluku, as well as in Timor-Leste. We lead learning networks of women leaders, local government executives and marine protected area practitioners in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste. We are developing our Center for Marine Conservation in Bali as an integrated learning space for training programs, outreach activities, interactive exhibits, and artistic and cultural performances to influence millions of people to care for our oceans and those who depend on it.

We at CTC continue to work towards our aim to inspire people to care for the oceans. Since our establishment in 2010 until 2023, we have protected   more than 435,000 hectares of critical marine habitat. We have trained more than 7,600 people to support marine protected areas and sustainable fisheries management throughout the Coral Triangle region. More than 20,000 people have visited our Center for Marine Conservation, many of whom have been inspired to take direct action to protect our oceans.

More information at

About Photovoices International

Photovoices International (PVI) is an Indonesian non-profit organization that believes in the power of perspective and is committed to empowering marginalized and under-represented communities to improve their lives using photos and stories. For more information please visit


Contact person:

Leilani Gallardo

Regional Communications Coordinator


Maria Adityasari

Communication Specialist PVI




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