Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Rosie the Deminer

July 1st, 2010 · 2 Comments

Do women make for better deminers? That could be the case in Sudan, in part because of the culture’s traditional division of labor:

In these war-torn communities it is typically women who are involved in gathering wood and water for their families in more remote locations. Due to their knowledge of these lesser-known areas, women have the most information in these rural communities regarding which areas are the most dangerous. These women, however, are typically an untapped resource of knowledge, since all-male teams go into these areas and speak mainly to the men from the communities about their knowledge of the mine threat in the area.

The account also notes one big drawback to employing women as deminers: the high childbirth rates in former conflict zones, which means that team members must often go on maternity leave. Yet those leaves are relatively short, and women typically continue to work well into their pregnancies. Check out these interviews with female deminers in Southeast Asia; the Laotian women was well into her second trimester when she provided her answers.

Another data point: One of the greatest deminers ever was a woman.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Captured Shadow

    Deminers are a special breed. While working in Sri Lanka I always had this crew on speed dial.
    http://www.maginternational.org/srilanka/
    Never needed to call but I heard some stories…..

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    Fascinating link, many thanks.

    Seems like basic economics are at work here: Demining NGOs offer (relatively) excellent pay, as well as job opportunities for women who would otherwise be consigned to the home. Sadly, it’s an easy choice for people living in the shadow of conflict.

    Always curious about the mortality rate in these operations, but figures seem hard to come by.

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