In Basra, Iraq, 14 women are defying rigid gender norms as they become the first all-women demining team in the city.
“Until now, no one had encouraged me in this field,” said Hind Ali, one of the women in the team. “My family and close friends are completely against it.”
Over the course of 40 days, they received intensive training, equipping the women with the tools and knowledge needed to safely find and clear different types of mines.
“I liked the idea of learning more, because I can be faced with this in my regular life, not because I am looking for them, but in my regular life, I should know how to deal with it,” Huda Khalid, another woman on the team, said.
The team was formed by a local company, and the women all had different motivations and objectives for joining. While some simply were looking for new job opportunities, others are driven by humanitarian goals, and or even overcoming personal challenges.
“The main reason why I joined the team is a humanitarian one. The province of Basra has a lot of mines within vast areas of land, people have been deprived from living in these lands. Moreover, there is lack of awareness among some people that have caused countless accidents in the province of Basra,” Hind Ali said.
Over the past years, dozens of people have been killed and injured in the east and west of Basra due to mines. As a consequence of the Iraq-Iran war and the Gulf war, thousands of kilometers in Basra are still filled with mines. Day by day, this team of women are saving lives.