Liesje Macawalang has been the Head of the Marine and Fisheries Office of Bitung City since 2014. During her career at the Marine and Fisheries Office, Liesje has not seen any particular challenges as a woman working there. She believes that family is the most important factor to be able to succeed as a female leader in the government.
Within the fisheries sector of Bitung City, Liesje does not see any gender gaps but instead sees that women and men are treated equally. However, Liesje thinks that the number of women who are involved in harvest activities (fishing) is still far less than men, and that this is something that can be improved. Although there has been improvement in the sector, she thinks that women’s potential still needs to be explored and given more recognition.
Liesje highlights that synergy and coordination between the city, provincial and central government are crucial to creating policies that meet the needs of the community, including regulations related to gender equality and women’s empowerment. Under Liesje’s direction, the Marine and Fisheries Office of Bitung will continue to add more programs to assist women’s groups through coaching and training, not only for wild-capture fisheries, but also aquaculture and processing.
“We, as women, must not underestimate ourselves. Women have multiple abilities; from taking care of the children and household, working, to participating in community organisations. When women become aware and able to maximize their potential, women will be equal to men.”
This story is a part of the Indonesian Women in Fisheries campaign, organized by SecondMuse and USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership, to increase public awareness of the importance of women’s role in the seafood sector. Seven inspiring women from Bitung, North Sulawesi, Indonesia will be profiled throughout the campaign. Follow #IDwomeninfisheries on Instagram and Twitter to catch all the stories.