#Herstory of Change – Nadila

As an ecofeminist network, we want to provide space for the stories of inspiring champions in the fields of gender equality and the fight against climate change and environmental pollution. We believe that a sustainable future and environment need feminist solutions reflecting the lives of people on the ground. That is why we work on transformative gender equality and women’s human rights in interconnection with sustainable development and climate justice.

One of these champions is Aprianti Nadila Selvanus

Nadila (22) is an activist, housewife and member of the village council Badan Perwakilan Desa (BPD). She lives in Sinar Kuri village in West Kalimantan province, Indonesia. Sinar Kuri is a small village of about 500 people who are part of the Dayak Lawangk tribe. Villagers sustain their livelihoods with rubber tapping alongside cultivating oil palm trees and seasonal fruits such as durian, duku and pekawai.

Close to the village is a dam from which water is piped to the community. However, the water level of the dam and its origin spring have been receding. Especially during the dry season, people can no longer rely on the dam due to erratic rainfall. Nadila sought solutions to decreasing water levels as part of her role as a BPD member. She is the link between the community and the village government.  

What I have done is to voice out the community’s aspirations regarding water to the village government and carry out inspections so that the dam can be repaired”. 

She reported the issue to the village head. As a result, the municipality formed a management team to address the unreliability of the water source. Once the area was carefully inspected, Nadila’s involvement in decision-making continued. She participated in the discussions about creating a fund for repairs and the extent to which the community would contribute to the fund in question. Thanks to Nadila’s efforts, a budget of 55 million Indonesian rupiah was created to repair the dam. This fund also has a preemptive objective as it can be used for addressing potential water damages in the future. However, as of today, the water still doesn’t reach all villagers, even with good pipes and in the rainy season. The village awaits more funds to improve the infrastructure.

When asked about her motivation to get involved in this issue, she explained that she can relate to the struggles faced by her fellow villagers:  

As housewives, the lack and difficulty of getting clean water impacts us directly. That people  have to travel far to get water… this makes my conscience and compassion want to immediately try to find a solution to this problem.” 

However, she also faces challenges in her work as a community representative. For example, when people are not satisfied with the outcomes or when they struggle to understand the difficulty of providing every home with running water. 

As a woman, you must have the courage to come forward and to give your opinion in public, especially to the government

Active citizens like Nadila are essential, especially as there are many other pressing issues for the community. Thankfully, more projects are being carried out on the ground that aim to improve the local circumstances. For instance, Nadila is currently involved with a fish ponds initiative – a collaboration between the municipality and the BPD. She and others look after the fish and clean the 15 different ponds in which tilapia and catfish live. The long-term objective is food security and nutrition, enabling villagers to access an additional healthy source of protein.  

As an agent of change, Nadila tries to stimulate citizen involvement in community activism. How? She feels that people should join leadership bodies at all levels – whether community or national – to fight for women’s rights. While her BPD mandate will finish in 2026, Nadila says she might run again. Finally, she has a strong message for women and girls globally: “As a woman, you must have the courage to come forward and to give your opinion in public, especially to the government.” 

Nadila and her community are supported by the work of Tropenbos Indonesia, which is a partner of the Green Livelihoods Alliance ‘Forests for a Just Future’ programme. WECF provides gender expertise in the programme, which aims for the inclusive and sustainable management of tropical forest landscapes. Ensuring that (young) women can exercise their right to engage in decision-making and leadership, as powerfully demonstrated by Nadila, is one of our focus areas. The story also highlights another of WECF’s thematic work areas: the importance of water and sanitation for women in their diversity, addressing the gendered impacts of water scarcity, and promoting women’s knowledge and solutions for these  problems.