Meet Chantha in Cambodia
Chantha's passion for the environment has led her to become a leader in her community.
Chantha's community lies in the heart of the Stung Treng province wetland site, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Cambodia. The area is known for its rich biodiversity and flooded forests that provide a home and breeding ground for fish.
In 2018, Chantha was selected as Deputy Chief of Koh Han Ecotourism, a local tourism company. She has built a successful enterprise, and encourages her community to take on roles like cooking or driving boats for tourists so they can earn an income. She also helps raise awareness about endangered species in the Mekong, and assists researchers in collecting information for fish catch monitoring.
She has also participated in Oxfam's Mekong Water Governance Project, which aims to support women and other marginalised groups to develop their leadership skills and influence water governance decisions.
"I am very much interested in community activities since I have learned about gender equality and women leadership in fishery and water resource protection," Chantha said.
"My family [husband] is an important motivator to inspire me to be able to participate in community activities, and I could play my leadership role."
However, the construction of a hydropower dam nearby has deterred tourists, and locals are finding it difficult to catch enough fish to eat and sell. With the support of her community and the new skills she has learnt, Chantha is now an active river defender and is monitoring changes in the Mekong's ecosystem.
"I am proud to be a women representative in Koh Sneng village representing other community members, especially women in ecotourism and fishery resource protection, because the Koh Sneng community cannot live without river and fishery resources," she said.
Chantha and her team aren't giving up their ecotourism business either. "We are planning to raise animal farms and to showcase the culture from our community in addition to the current status of nature we have in order to attract more tourists."