By Marta Muslin
My name is Marta Muslin and I’m a 39-year-old single mother to a 13-year-old boy. I come from Manggarai, West Flores, East Nusa Tenggara. I work as a community project manager in Labuan Bajo where I’m very active in the community serving various roles: the legal division organizer for the Manggarai Raya Travel Association (ASITA), a member of the Komodo Dive Guide Association, coordinator of the Flores Homestay Network, and the coordinator of the Indonesian Waste Platform (IWP). I enjoy my busy life in this fast-growing city and I’m proud to share my story in honor of International Women’s Day.
My first job after earning my law degree was at an international NGO in Flores where I worked for five years. I had returned home after wandering and experiencing various difficulties for nine years, while working and studying at the same time. Initially, it was not easy to prove that I could be a decision maker in my various professional positions as a single-woman parent. Being a woman working in the tourism sector is not as easy as it seems, especially when you work on an island with a very patriarchal culture. I needed to work twice as hard to prove that I had the capacity to make decisions. However, as time went on, all the activities that I accomplished were increasingly recognized, both locally, nationally, and internationally (Australia Award for Sustainable Regional Growth, 2016, International Leadership Visitor Program for sustainable energy to USA, 2017, Danida Fellowship for advocacy public dialogue, Denmark, 2019).
Now, people no longer see me as an ordinary Flores woman—who in our culture typically act as a supporter of decisions made by men. I have truly proven that I can make the right decision, not only for the organization that I manage, or the association that I lead, but also for a larger decision relating to the sustainability of Flores, which has become a new, super premium tourist destination in eastern Indonesia.
Translated from Marta’s Story: For My Son and My Island (Cole, 2018)