Limited access to information and education is one of the biggest issues we have right now, especially knowledge about natural resources, law and regulations. As a result, the community’s right to have a clean and healthy environment continually eroded, and women living in forest-edge villages are the ones who are significantly affected by this. Grassroot women have a strong connection with the environment. It helps women in providing food, medicine, and clean water for their families. Moreover, grassroot women are also one of the most vulnerable groups to natural hazard. Social marginalization, lack of mobility and exclusion from decision-making processes compound the vulnerabilities they experience.
HAkA realizes that strengthening the competency and increasing awareness of women at the grassroot level is important. We do this through women paralegal training which aims to assist the community to seek justice relating to their environment, strengthening community organizations, conducting legal documentation and reporting to the authorities.
In 2020, HAkA conducted Basic Paralegal Training for 131 women across the Leuser Ecosystem. Most participants were excited to be informed about the basic environmental and paralegal knowledge. Some of them have reportedly taken direct actions after the training, such as access test to the respective local government for programs or project that will be implemented by the local government and conduct an assessment of these documents; some following up on a case by forming a group discussion, sharing and transferring this knowledge to the other members of their communities; and some conducted environmental restoration after being inspired by this training.
In the future HAkA will evaluate the participants, and enhance their capacity through advanced Paralegal Training which is planned to be held in 2021. Hereafter, we expect they can be independently motivated to seek and enforce their rights, especially in having a clear and healthy environment. We also hope that not only the participants who attend the paralegal training are aware of those rights, but also all the readers of this article. Therefore, we can protect the Leuser Ecosystem and create a better environment for ourselves, others and the next generation.