On International Day, UN hails vital role of women in achieving world free of landmines

A female member of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team brushes sand off of a mortar shell during a demonstration held by UNMAS in Mogadishu, Somalia. Photo: UN Photo/Tobin Jones

4 April 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling for greater measures to involve more women at higher levels in mine action, stressing their vital role in advancing the vision of a world free of landmines.

“It is often said that women hold up half the sky. This year on the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance, we focus on the important role of women in safeguarding the earth,” Mr. Ban stated in his message for the observance, commemorated each year on 4 April.

According to the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), 10 people are killed or maimed by a landmine every single day. Mine action entails more than removing landmines from the ground. It includes actions ranging from teaching people how to protect themselves from danger in a mine-affected environment to advocating for a mine-free world.

Mr. Ban noted that women worldwide are vital to the drive to clear landmines and protect against their indiscriminate effects, teaching people how to live safely in contaminated areas, assisting victims, clearing landmines and disposing of explosive ordnance.

Women and girls are disproportionately affected by landmines, he continued, and have different needs when it comes to education about risks. Also, they may face greater challenges when a family member is killed or injured.

“That is why the United Nations endeavours to listen to the views of women in our mine action work, incorporate their ideas and empower them to contribute even more to our global campaign,” said the Secretary-General.

He added that women can drive progress towards the central goals of mine action, which aims to increase security, rebuild communities, reclaim land and end the looming fear caused by explosive remnants of war.

“Women can also amplify the benefits of this work as children return to school, economic activity revives and lives and livelihoods are saved through mine action work.”

For all of these reasons, the UN chief called for greater measures to involve more women at higher levels in mine action. In addition, governments should do more to address gender in their mine action programmes and through their implementation of the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention.

“The United Nations has a proud record of helping millions of people in mine-affected countries. On this International Day, let us resolve to mobilize the resources, partners and resolve we need to further advance our vision of a planet free from mines.”

Among the events to mark this year’s International Day are panel discussions, film screenings and exhibits, including “Sweeper” at the New Museum which provides the first virtual minefield ever installed in New York City.


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