Indigenous women in land and sea management, Torres Strait, Queensland, Australia

International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity

Indigenous women of the Torres Strait Islands play a vital role in understanding and managing the land and sea resources and building community resilience. As custodians and teachers of significant traditional knowledge, valued members and leaders of community organisations, and occupying a growing number of leadership and technical positions more broadly, women bring a unique strength and insight to land and sea management.

“Woman is like a rock in the middle of the ocean. During strong tides and winds, the rock never moves its ground. When you go further down, there’s a school of fish that hide under the rock for shelter – Malu Ipkazil”

Laura Pearson, Ranger, Warraber Island, Torres Strait

“While the men have to go out hunting and working on the mainland, women stay on their islands, and listen to their parents, their aunties, grandparents, about how to look after islands, how to grow food in traditional gardens, when to harvest wongai and gasi, how to catch fish and feed their families. The women know all the stories, they know all the boundaries, they have the traditional knowledge and they share this with their brothers. They are also the ones looking after their children, and looking to the future they will inherit, and passing their traditional knowledge onto their children. I encourage Elders and future leaders to seek more information from womenfolk.”

Doug Passi, Traditional Owner, Mer Island, Torres Strait

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