In celebration of International Women’s Day, Mines Advisory Group (MAG) America wants to celebrate and thank all the female team members working around the world to save lives and build safer futures by removing landmines and unexploded ordnance from countries that have experienced conflict. The dedication of these brave women inspires us, and paves the way forward for a future where girls can play, grow, and lead in safety.
Enjoy a selection of stories from some of the amazing women who save lives with MAG.
The Sinjar district of Iraq was liberated from ISIS control in 2016, but the land is still littered with improvised landmines and explosive hazards. These devices threaten those who live in the region, and those who fled from their homes during the violence and now wish to return.
This month, MAG welcomed 25 new deminers to the district, including Nazy, Nahla, and Nazo, Yazidi women who were persecuted under ISIS rule.
Nazo, pictured at the top of the post, told us: “I am very proud of myself, having enough courage and strength to be involved in this mission that saves people’s lives. All my friends and family members are great supporters of me.”
Nahla spoke of the importance of equality in her country, calling for women to take a major role in all aspects of life.
Nazy chimed in with a smile: “I decided to join MAG to support my community and clear the city that once was my home. After all the woes we’ve witnessed as Yazidi people, I now believe that we can achieve gender equality in our society by standing together against violence and ignorance.”
In Laos, Bounma was recently promoted to Field Supervisor for one of MAG’s two Mine Action Teams in Langkhang village in Khammouane province. Langkhang is located close to the Ho Chi Minh Trail and was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War. The area remains contaminated with unexploded ordnance (UXO) to this day.
“It is a big responsibility” Bounma explained. “But I enjoy my work. I may be small but I'm doing big things! I remember hearing about UXO accidents when I was growing up. People used to get injured searching for scrap metal. This is why I joined MAG and do UXO clearance; I don’t want to hear about any more accidents.”
The Laos teams have already destroyed over 300 items of UXO from Langkhang village this year under Bounma's supervision.
Civil war in Sri Lanka has left large areas in the northern and eastern regions of the country contaminated with explosive items. Nauleswari (pictured below) joined the program in Sri Lanka in 2014 as a deminer. She quickly rose through the ranks in field operations, and undertook additional trainings in management, medicine, and English. Today, Nauleswari is a Field Supervisor for the region.
Wijekumari, Srivanjani and Subashini all work as deminers for MAG in addition to caring for their families.
“The salary I receive by doing this job is high compared to other jobs I could get as a woman,” Wijekumari explained. Srivanjani added that after all of her expenses, and even with a disabled son and sick mother to look after, she is still able to save money for the future. Subashini told us:
“Working as a deminer at MAG made me a strong person. My colleagues are my siblings. I feel safe when I work with them. We are one family.”
At MAG America, we’re committed to promoting the empowerment and full participation of women in all aspects of our work, on International Women's Day and every day that follows. #IWD2019