Politics 11:20 30/06/2016

Women deminers have cleared 20.473 square meters in Nagorno Karabakh Republic

This photograph was found at maptia.com, where the Italian photographer published photographs of Artsakh women. Frankly, we’ve never thought that women and girls could be involved in demining. Even in Artsakh. What the girls and women of your country pick up in the fields marks the line that separates war from peace.The HALO Trust is a humanitarian not for profit, non-religious organization which is conducting mine clearance and unexploded ordnance (UXO) disposal around the world in post conflict countries. Ash Boddy, Programme Manager in Nagorno Karabakh told Panorama.am  that HALO started to implement full-scale mine clearance and unexploded ordnance disposal in Nagorno Karabakh in 2000, in order to prevent mine and UXO accidents and make agricultural land safe to use.

Panorama.am – Why has the organization decided to hire women for demining?
Ash Boddy – In 2015 HALO NK recruited its first female team. There were several reasons for recruiting women. The simplest answer is that there is no good reason not to recruit women! Our experiences have shown in other countries (Georgia, Cambodia, Colombia and others) that women can do the job just as well as men. Additionally, it is hoped that by employing women in a job that is typically male dominated, women can prove to themselves and to their community that they have the power to achieve things previously considered impossible. The HALO Trust, and our donors, feel that the empowerment of women in their communities is a considered priority.

Panorama.am – How many women deminers do the organization have and from which regions are they generally from?
Ash Boddy – Today the HALO NK programme has 5 women deminers, all from Norashenik village of Lachin region. Another 6 women deminers are currently undertaking a demining course, and, depending on their successful completion of the course and the exams, will be employed in live clearance tasks from early July. We will be recruitment more female teams as the year progresses. We have traditionally recruited and hired female members of staff in operations support roles since the beginning of the programme.

Panorama.am – How much area has been cleared by the women’s team? In which areas did they work? Where do they currently work?
Ash Boddy – Currently the women’s team is working in Vaghazin area of Lachin region working on an anti-tank minefield. Previously they were working in Karegah, also in Lachin region. In total, they have cleared 20,473 square meters, clearing 7 anti-personnel mines, one anti-tank mine and 2 UXO in the process.

Panorama.am – Is it easy to recruit women counting the fact of work difficulty? Do families of these women easily agree with the fact that their ladies become deminers, and generally, what do women say - why do they decide to become deminers, what they say about their work?
Ash Boddy – The only concern that the families expressed was the danger which as they think the mine clearance process poses. But during demining training and after deploying to the fields, the women and their families have realized that the process is not dangerous when the clearance is run according to Standard Operations Procedures and in a safe manner. We can’t say that the women had always dreamed of becoming deminers, but these ladies have made their decisions based on the fact that, first of all, humanitarian mine clearance increases the safety of them their families and their children and, secondly, the job provides an income that helps the women’s families improve their socio-economic status and brings stability to their lives.  

Panorama.am – Usually, women are more careful, more attentive; does it help them during the work?
Ash Boddy – Common generalisations about men and women have so far proved inaccurate in HALO’s experiences, both in Karabakh and in our programmes in other countries. Our supervisors, who have many years’ experience in the field, say that our female and male teams approach their jobs in the same way: with dedication, conscientiousness, and pride. The HALO trust does not treat or pay its male and female teams differently – all deminers are treated equally, and the same attitude and productivity is expected from everybody, regardless of gender. We can say, though, that we have been particularly impressed with the ladies’ discipline and attention to detail!

The HALO Trust was founded in 1988 in response to the global humanitarian catastrophe caused by landmines. The problem was particularly acute in Afghanistan. The organization operates in Nagorno Karabakh, Cambodia. Mozambique, Somali, Sri-Lanka, Eritrea, Abkhazia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Angola and Afghanistan.

Source Panorama.am
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