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Christian award winner sets up foundation for women

Environmental campaigner Aleta Baun seeks to give women greater voice in conservation efforts

Christian award winner sets up foundation for women

Aleta Baun, the 2013 Goldman Environmental Prize winner who chose to use the money she received to start a foundation to support female environmental activists. (Photo by Ryan Dagur)

 

March 15, 2017

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An Indonesian Christian woman who received an award for her work in environmental protection has established a new foundation using her prize money to support women working for the environment.

Aleta Baun, 53, an indigenous woman from East Nusa Tenggara province, received the Goldman Environment Prize in 2013 and a sum of US$150,000.

She has used this money for her newly established Mama Aleta Fund foundation launched in Jakarta on March 11.

In 2014 she also received Yap Thiam Hien award in recognition of her defending the rights of people in East Nusa Tenggara

"Women are among the most vulnerable groups because environmental destruction," she said.

Baun won the Goldman Environment Prize for her work in fighting against marble mining companies in South Central Timor district, which began in 1980.

The mining has caused deforestation, landslides, water pollution and other ecological problems, she said.

She organized more than 150 women to quietly occupy mining sites and weave traditional cloth there, which eventually saw the mining firms abandoned their operations in 2010.

Her new foundation, she said, also aims to support uneducated women from eastern Indonesia get an education and access to mentoring programs.

Antoinette Royo, director of the Samdhana Institute, an environmental group, and a board member of the Mama Aleta Fund praised Baun's commitment to empower women to work toward environmental conservation.

"I hope the foundation will not only benefit Indonesia's eastern region, but also other regions," he said.

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