Lao PDR

New case study: Female mine deactivating teams in Laos provide a different perspective on women in the workplace

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This is the final article in our month-long series highlighting gender issues and women in leadership that began on International Women's Day, March 8. In this case study, the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) illustrates the context and conditions in which female mine deactivation teams work, and the challenges they face in the most bombed country in the world, Laos.

We often imagine the work of finding and destroying landmines being carried out by teams of ex-military men. However, the story on the ground is often very different. MAG understands that having a gender balance is critical to the success of their operational activity and employs 2000 staff in 20 countries - 330 of these are female. In Laos, three out of 19 mine deactivation teams are all female.

Because of the vast area of operation, MAG staff in Laos work for 21 continuous days followed by 10 days’ rest. The teams deploy from the provincial office to sometimes remote locations for the duration of their work cycle, working and living together throughout. This kind of work can be challenging, especially for women in Laos, as MAG’s Head of International HR, Rhian Cooke, explains:

“One of the challenges for female teams like those in Laos can be the incompatibility of the deployment cycle with childcare responsibilities. To help overcome this, we offer additional time off above the statutory minimum and as much flexibility to new mothers as possible. In addition, the team members support each other and make it work.”

MAG have introduced various measures such as changes to work rosters and childcare options to support female staff and address these challenges.

Find out more about MAG’s arrangements that allow women to work and provide income for their families by downloading the case study, A little known perspective on women in the workplace: female mine deactivating teams working for Mines Advisory Group (MAG).