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For many Indonesian women, opting for a career is not an easy path – and even more so when you choose to work in a challenging, male-dominated factory environment.

But, this has not stopped Itsna Lathifa from chasing her dreams. The mother of two children now serves as the Acting Process & Pulp Product Quality Assurance Area Head at Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP).

Itsna is the epitome of women’s empowerment, successfully managing all the obstacles she’s faced in the working world thus far, beginning with when she began her career at RAPP in 2005.

When Itsna first joined RAPP, her mother had disagreed as Itsna had to work the night shift at the time. Her mother was often anxious as the people who worked the night shift were mostly men. At 11pm every night, Itsna would call her mother to reassure her that everything was alright.

The Fascinating World of Forestry (TFWoF) is an educational programme which introduces the younger generation to real-world issues concerning sustainable development, forestry and the environment through a wide range of learning activities.

Run by APRIL, the TFWoF programme is attended by secondary students and university students around Jakarta.

Among the main activities run as part of the programme are talks by APRIL experts about the challenging, multifaceted world of forestry. Students learn about sustainable forest management in the Indonesian context and the significance of collaboration and partnerships in doing so.

As part of the programme, APRIL also hosts a unique two-day, one-night field trip for TFWoF participants to its forestry and pulp and paper manufacturing facilities in Indonesia’s Riau province.

In 2015, APRIL's fire prevention efforts led it to launch its pioneering Fire Free Village Program (FFVP), a fire prevention program which aims to raise awareness about the negative impacts of land burning.

That year, APRIL recorded a 90 per cent reduction in fire incidence among the villages which were participating in the FFVP – the same year that notoriously saw the worst fire season in Indonesia.

In 2016, APRIL continued to grow the FFVP, and the company was among the founding members of the Fire Free Alliance (FFA).

The FFA is a voluntary multi-company group comprising forestry and agriculture companies which works with NGOs and other partners to resolve Indonesia's persistent fire and haze problems arising from land burning, primarily through emphasis on a fire and haze prevention approach.

You may be confused when you hear that a pulp and paper company conducts a training program for students to learn how to grow vegetables and rear cattle – far removed from the paper production business.

But this is exactly what APRIL does for students in Kerinci and surrounding areas in Indonesia – all in a bid to help create more qualified human resources overall in the country, supporting several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals along the way.

By running its ‘On the Job’ Training Program, APRIL gives students the opportunity to hone their farming knowledge at APRIL’s Integrated Training and Business Development Centre over a period of three months.

“Students are taught to run and analyze their businesses – in agriculture or livestock – including selling their harvests at the end,” said Gading, APRIL’s Community Development Coordinator.

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