“When oil palm was given out by the district head I didn’t accept it. I am still angry at the oil palm companies,” says Monica Mensea. At 83, Mensea is the oldest woman in her village of Long Bentuk, a Dayak Medang indigenous community in East Kalimantan, a province in Indonesian Borneo. Though her body is weakening and her brown eyes are cloudy with cataracts, Mensea’s mind is as sharp as ever. For nearly 20 years she led her community as the kepala adat (customary head) of Long Bentuk, in the administrative district of East Kutai. Despite her firm stance against converting land to industrial oil palm, today a corporate-run estate abuts her village’s land, where her community’s ancestral forest once stood. New pest infestations, oil palm plantations and climate change are all affecting local livelihoods and food availability. Women are suffering the most, through increased workloads and food shortages.
Read more here.