Reaching more women and girls in Afghanistan

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HALO's Afghanistan programme is celebrating the success of its first female staff members to be trained and pass a course in non-technical survey in the country.

Tela and Mursal undertook a course provided by the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining. All other participants were men. Both women are now out in the field completing their on-the-job training and will be conducting survey work across the country. The Government of the Netherlands has helped to part-fund their training and continues to provide support.

Tela and Mursal

Non-technical survey is the term for the initial process of data gathering to identify minefields and other hazardous areas, using a wide variety of information including interviews with local people, satellite photographs, accident records or military minefield maps. Non-technical survey is crucial work because it is the starting point for making land safe for communities.

"In Afghanistan, where access to women and girls can be difficult, having women train in non technical survey is crucial so that we can hear the specific needs of women and girls." Victoria Telford, Head of Partnerships and Donor Management, HALO Afghanistan

Tela and Mursal's success is a part of HALO Afghanistan’s wider Gender Action Plan. Under this plan more women will train in non-technical survey, enabling them to expand activities keeping women and girls safe. Currently HALO's female Afghan staff deliver risk education to women and girls about landmines, ordnance and other explosive hazards.

In Afghanistan, where cultural practice means access to women and girls can be difficult, having women train in non-technical survey is crucial so that we can hear the specific needs of women and girls. Tela and Mursal can now have separate, culturally appropriate, meetings with the women in communities to gather their knowledge on contamination.

They will also be able to understand how contamination is affecting women, not just men. This helps HALO to prioritise clearance so that it will benefit the whole community equally. With women trained to conduct survey work, HALO will hear women’s voices more directly and be able to design projects that fully benefit them.

This is stage one of the Gender Action Plan, in the future women will also train in explosive ordnance disposal and HALO is looking to recruit female engineers to its physical security and stockpile management (PSSM) projects. PSSM programmes can help prevent tragedies by keeping ammunition and weapons in safe and secure storage areas. HALO Afghanistan also plans recruit women and into weapons and ammunition disposal teams to undertake similar training. HALO has worked hard to develop means of employing women that are safe and work in harmony with Afghanistan's culture so that we can serve the needs of women and girls in mine-affected communities.

The Government of The Netherlands has supported HALO's risk education and clearance work under a project since 2016. That project allowed HALO to hire women to conduct risk education to women and children that has reach over 7,000 women and 35,000 children.


The Government of The Netherlands