Indonesien: Aleta Ba’un

I believe that one day women’s leadership among our indigenous elders will be recognized. We just need to work very hard to convince our elders and to raise our women’s awareness and education.

— Aleta Ba’un

Aleta Ba’un (born 1966) is a West Timorese community organizer who defends the rights of indigenous peoples. She has helped found many local NGOs, including the Women Voice Center Sanggar Suara Perempuan (SSP) and the Eastern Indonesia Women’s Health Network (JKPIT). Her leadership has been an inspiration to other activists, especially to other indigenous women.

Aleta Ba’un, a West Timorese indigenous woman, says, "Indigenous people are always left behind. We have to struggle to maintain our way of life." Aleta was born to a family of farmers in the remote village of Lelobatan in West Timor. She graduated from high school and, unable to pursue her studies because of poverty, she found work in the city as a housemaid. In 1993, she met some activists from the Haumeni Foundation, an NGO based in Soe City. Aleta recalls, "I experienced first-hand village organizing and raising awareness in the community, especially in regard to women’s economic empowerment and health issues for the poor." Initially, she worked as a community organizer; being an indigenous person, she did not have trouble integrating with the people. Later, Aleta worked with Sanggar Suara Perempuan (SSP), an NGO that documents women’s health problems, women’s issues and the violations of women's rights. SSP trains village women and advocates for regulations in support of women and their health rights, and introduces local women to a rights perspective, especially the right to health services and law enforcement. Aleta also worked on indigenous rights, founding the Alliance of Indigenous People in Kupang with some colleagues. In 1999, she engaged in a three-year battle against an investor, who tried to mine marble from an area considered by the indigenous people as a sacred heritage from their ancestors. The case drew national and international attention for months. Also known as "Mama Leta", Aleta is currently working to establish an Indigenous Peoples Council in 21 villages stretching from Soe City to Lelobatan village.

Lembaga Masyarakat Adat Women Voice Center Sanggar Suara Perempuan (SSP)