Click above to read the female deminers in their own words.
In many areas where MAG works, women have few opportunities to generate income for their families – MAG gives them the opportunity to be involved in the clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance.
Employing and training women, and proving their ability to undertake demanding work in difficult conditions, raises their status in the community and, in time, should help encourage other employers to hire female staff.
In MAG Sri Lanka’s all-female Mine Action Team, each of the women are their family’s main income earner.
Click here for a photo slideshow of the female deminers telling their stories: In their own words – MAG Sri Lanka's Female Deminers .
This Mine Action Team is currently working in Periyapandivirichchan, Mannar District, alongside other clearance teams.
The people of the village, like many thousands of others, faced great difficulties during the civil war and for more than a year lived in emergency camps for internally displaced people (IDPs).
"We were all having lunch together when shelling started. My husband was hit on the head with shrapnel and died instantly. Our daughter was only two days old. I hope I will be able to provide a better future for her... and I think MAG can help me do that."
Though the conflict ended in May 2009, the presence of remnants of conflict prevented their safe return.
Now, a total of 515 people – from 147 families – have been able to resettle onto the areas cleared in Periyapandivirichchan by MAG since December 2009.
And development agencies are now able to safely access the area and assist the population, helping them to rebuild their homes and their lives.
With the Government aiming to resettle all those displaced by the conflict by the end of 2011, MAG’s work in removing the threat for returnees is absolutely vital to their safe return – and to the subsequent process of rebuilding their livelihoods.
MAG thanks the following current donors for their support to the Sri Lanka programme: AusAID; Canadian International Development Agency; The Kirby Laing Foundation; Stichting Vluchteling; UKaid (UK Department for International Development); US Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.
1 March 2011