Role of women in clearing mines acknowledged as world marks International Mine Awareness Day 2014

Apr 4, 2014

Ilza Silvano proud to be contributing to Mozambique’s development by clearing land mines (Photo: Apopo/Moz. 2014)

“Women worldwide are vital to our drive to clear landmines and protect against their indiscriminate effects” Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon has said in a message marking International Mine Awareness Day which takes place today, the 4th of April. The Secretary General also recognised that women and girls are disproportionately affected by landmines and called for greater measures to involve women at higher levels in mine action.

Mine clearance efforts in Mozambique have seen more and more women participating at all levels. The UNDP’s mine action partners in Mozambique — the National Demining Institute of Mozambique, The Halo Trust, Norwegian People’s Aid, Handicap International and APOPO— have female employees working in management positions, as information officers, mechanical deminers and manual deminers. 

Isla Silvano, an assistant team leader with APOPO says “I feel proud as a lady working in demining and knowing that I am saving lives. It is a hard challenge to do demining but I am doing it to save my people and earn a living”.

The work of deminers such as Ms Silvano is having a profoundly positive impact in Mozambique for broader development. A clear example of this is the recent progress in Maputo Province which, on 21st of March, reached mine-free status under the conditions of the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Treaty.

Maputo is the sixth of the country’s ten provinces to attain this status and it is hoped that all of Mozambique will be declared mine-free by the 31st of December. This goal is an ambitious one, but it is achievable. At the beginning of March 2014, 5.29 million square meters still required clearance and, for reference, over 9 million square meters were cleared last year alone. 

If Mozambique is declared mine-free within the year, it will undoubtedly be held up as an extraordinary example of the regional and global progress that has been made in clearing mines and ending the suffering they cause. In particular, this achievement will highlight the success of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty to which 161 States are now bound. 

It is fitting that this Convention’s Third Review Conference will take place in Maputo as the city also hosted the very first Meeting of States Parties to the Convention fifteen years ago. Much has changed in those intervening years. At the first Meeting of States Parties in 1999, Mozambique was described as a country whose people were living in uncertainty and permanent fear that prevented them from using vast areas of arable land. 

Today, with the continued support of UNDP, and the commitment of numerous national and international partners, the majority of these areas have been identified, cleared and released back to local populations for cultivation and development.

 As it has been —and will continue to be— a team effort, this International Day for mine awareness and assistance in mine action, we can all take pride the success of mine action in this country and that a mine-free Mozambique in sight.

 

For additional information please contact:

Hans Risser

UNDP Technical Advisor, Mine Action

National Demining Institute (IND)

746 Avenida de Angola

Maputo, MOZAMBIQUE

Mobile: +258-84-296-4620

Email: hans.risser@undp.org

 

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