Supporting women to work in mine action

Mine action is traditionally male dominated; but we’re making strides to change this gender imbalance and make the sector more accessible to women like Salma. #MineActionApril

At SafeLane Global, we are committed to supporting the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.  Goal number 5 is gender equality…

Although mine action has traditionally been a male dominated sector, we’re making strides to change this gender imbalance at SafeLane and make the valuable contributory roles of the sector more accessible to women.

How can we address gender inequality in mine action?

The Gender Equality Index highlights significant imbalances in some of our locations of mine action operations.  Due to different cultural expectations in some nations for example, we acknowledge that female staff members who wish to work for us may face the ‘double burden’ of paid work and their significant responsibilities within the domestic sphere.

SafeLane supports women in mine action, which is why we have open communications regarding the needs of female employees.  These conversations cover crucial considerations such as:

  • Childcare,
  • Flexible working hours, and
  • Leave availability.

With these conversations we aim to help women in mine action feel supported in achieving a work life balance.  The SafeLane project solutions have the best interests of our individuals in mind. 

Our ‘people first’ approach extends to all our personnel, globally.

On an existing project in Sudan, we employ Salma Sirelkhati as our Socio-Economic Liaison Officer.  In January 2018 Salma became pregnant and was entitled to 40 days’ maternity leave.  However, we gave her 50% more maternity leave and adapted her working hours to accommodate for childcare and her other domestic responsibilities.

It’s action like this that companies like ours can take to support local recruitment and address gender imbalance wherever we encounter it.

Meet Salma: a woman making a marked difference in mine action

Here we meet Salma, who tells us a little more about herself and her role.

“I graduated from the University of Khartoum’s Faculty of Arts before working with international organisations involved in mine clearance.

My work has always been focused in the fields of financial, administrative and public relations.  I’ve conducted this work in Sudan for more than 12 years now. 

I have a passion for reading, a desire for knowledge and I place emphasis on learning everything that’s useful and practical.  I am married and a mother to a beautiful little girl. 

In my role on SafeLane’s mine action project in Sudan, I am the liaison for the project between the company and the national mine action centre (NMAC), government ministries and UN agencies.  I also coordinate travel with airlines for both internal and international flights, and work in conjunction with the national security and social security offices. 

It is a hugely varied role, and I am grateful that I can manage it alongside my role as a mother.”

Why do you choose to work in the mine action sector?

“In terms of how I started working in support of mine action, I trained with a national organisation and worked in victim assistance in a camp in Khartoum for disabled people.  I was shocked by the huge numbers of mine and explosives remnants of war survivors, and from that time on I took every opportunity to attend workshops in mine action for mine risk education and victim assistance.

With my knowledge and commitment to help, I found my first job within mine action.  I have never looked back and I find working in this sector to be so rewarding, allowing the next generation of children just like my little girl to play outside with friends without the risk of explosive ordnance.

Although my day-to-day job is not operational clearance on the ground, I know that what I do is essential to support and enable our teams to achieve their critical work and give safe land to our communities in Sudan. 

During my career so far, I have learned a lot about the work our clearance teams do, and I have gained great experience from other qualified and professional people in the fields of administration, logistics and liaison.”

Supporting women in mine action

Salma’s Operations Manager is Ally Moss, here Ally explains what a valuable role Salma does, and how critical her work is in terms of enabling the clearance of explosive remnants of war.

“Salma is an essential member of our Sudan team; the daily coordination and liaison functions of her position are key to enabling the continuation of field operations in the most challenging of work environments.  

A wonderful example of maintaining a career alongside a growing family, Salma is a mother, a wife and an incredible asset to the SafeLane operations team.  I look forward to seeing her career in mine action progress and evolve.

Mine action month gives us the opportunity to celebrate the valuable contributions and extraordinary commitment of Salma and all mine action personnel deployed throughout the world.  From cooks to drivers, from deminers to supervisors and all the roles of responsibility in between – to the team members both past and present, thank you for making the world a safer place for generations to come.”

We would like to thank Salma for her commitment to supporting the safe disposal of explosive remnants of war in Sudan, her hard work, and passion for continual development are admirable. 

For women looking to develop their skills or advance their career in mine action, view our current vacancies on our careers page.