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APOPO's female deminers - International Women's Day

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On today's International Women's Day, APOPO wants to express its gratitude to all women and girls working with us. APOPO has taken considerable steps to incorporate a crosscutting gender and diversity dimension into all of its activities and even in a male orientated profession like demining APOPO intends to achieve balanced employment of men and women at all levels.

Although historically almost all deminers in the countries where we work were demobilised male soldiers, APOPO incorporates and promotes inclusion of female deminers among its staff as much as possible. APOPO actively supports broad scale integration of any qualified female staff into all posts, not only as programme support and office staff but also as field and senior operations staff like deminers, Mine Detection Rat Handlers, Team Leaders and Assistant Team Leaders.

"Being a deminer is hard work but I enjoyed it and as an African woman I felt empowered in such a position," says Margardia Luis Sitoe who was part of APOPO's demining team in Mozambique. "I thought that working in a male orientated profession might be difficult because some men in Mozambique think that women should not work; it is not their place. But APOPO redresses the gender balance through employing women at all levels and positions across the whole organization. In a way we are ambassadors because women in Africa can be disempowered through a culture in which men often control household jobs, income and therefore choices. But the men in APOPO are very supportive. Some were surprised at first to see women on the minefield but now they treat us like equals."

APOPO wants to help women and girls to achieve their ambitions and on this day we want to celebrate their achievements.

Read here the story of Clementina Regina, who's working as a deminer in Angola.

International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the world's progress toward ensuring the rights and opportunities of women and girls, and also to renew and reinvigorate commitments to achieve gender equality.