The KAWAKI Women’s Group: Turtle Advocates
Women from three Solomon Islands communities have banded together to protect turtles and play a new role in conservation education.
At the Arnavon Community Marine Park (ACMP) in the Solomon Islands, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) works with three local communities to protect the largest hawksbill turtle nesting area in the Western Pacific. Although men from these communities have been involved in the ACMP for 20 years as community conservation officers, women have not had a formal role there.
With support from Robyn James, Conservation Director for TNC's Melanesia Program, women from Kahtupika, Wagina and Kia formed KAWAKI. The KAWAKI Women's Network is a new conservation group where women are taking a leading role in conserving the most important hawksbill turtle rookery in the South Pacific. The group's initial hopes are to: 1) raise awareness about conservation in their villages, and 2) design an education program to teach children about sea turtles and the ACMP. The vision of KAWAKI is uniting women around conservation, culture and community to create a better future for their children.
The women’s plan to raise awareness is important. Even though turtles are relatively safe while they nest at the ACMP, they face dangers when they leave these protected islands. Poaching, fishing nets and even litter, such as plastic bags, all pose threats to sea turtles as they swim and feed in the area.
Read more about TNC's sea turtle conservation work.
With support from TNC, the KAWAKI women have developed a set of environment education materials in the form of flipcharts that can be used to present information in schools and villages without electricity. They next plan to use these materials as the basis of an awareness program for the areas around Arnavons with the goal of scaling this out over time.
Also, the women of KAWAKI are eager to create the Solomon Island’s first women-run ecotourism venture! Their ecotourism venture will be based on Kerehikapa Island, one of three islands that make up the Arnavon Marine Protected Area. The women have already been hosting supporters and tourists in an informal manner for a number of years; the Arnavons is also known to some tourists. The women are excited to formalise their skills around hospitality and tourism, and to see this business thrive and grow!