Tajik Female Demining Team, Spring 2014
Gender is a priority issue for the United Nations. In particular, the United Nations Inter-Agency Mine Action Strategy states that ‘United Nations mine action work plans will address the impact of mine action on women, girls, boys and men and seek to involve them to the extent possible in the planning and implementation of mine action initiatives’. For many years, the UNDP TMAC made significant efforts to create an environment to promote the establishment of a female demining team (FDT) within the mine action framework. In 2010, the invitation to Norwegian People’s Aid in Tajikistan to implement land release tasks in the border areas of Tajikistan with Afghanistan opened up the way to investigating the experience applicable to forming a FDT. It is well known that the NPA has an experienced role in organizing and supporting FDTs in mine-affected countries. The NPA’s perspective is to support gender equality and women’s empowerment in mine-affected communities.
In spring 2014, the Tajik community witnessed a female demining team newly established through the NPA’s contribution. After a long period of efforts and promotion to create a team from among village women, the Tajik mine action community has achieved its goal. This has come about thanks to the relevant agencies represented by Norwegian People’s Aid which helps to build local capacity in demining activities. A group of 10 potential women candidates was selected and involved through a long promotion campaign, presentations and a well-explained approach among community members funded by NPA demining in southern Tajikistan, namely Kumsangir border district in Khatlon province. These community women, who have a background in agrarian activities, have developed their awareness of the role of women in demining activities through communication with the NPA staff. Currently, the FDT is attending basic theory courses so as to be familiar with NPA principles and methodology. At the same time, they will receive information related to the role and position of the Tajik National Mine Action Center (TNMAC). They will study standards and rules, test demining tools, learn the safety rules and marking system. On completion of all the above-mentioned courses the trainees will be tested on all demining procedures in a safe area.
As we know, female demining teams have become acceptable in many cultures, and significant results have been achieved. We hope that this effort will facilitate the application of the UN system-wide policy on gender mainstreaming and gender balance and contribute to cost-effective and culturally appropriate mine action programmes. Realization of the aim of recruiting female deminers is a step toward achieving equality in the field of mine action in our country. The women said: ‘We also want to show society that women are able to do whatever men can do.’
On behalf of UNDP Tajikistan and TNMAC, we wish the Tajik Female Demining Team the best knowledge, good results, and, most importantly, a safe path in mined fields.