Mine-Clearing is Women’s Work


Women have moved from sidelines to front line in effort to rid Mozambique of land mines. (Nat Geo News)

Use our resources to better understand why land mines remain a fatal legacy of many conflicts.

Teachers, scroll down for a short list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

This painted cloth depicts different land mines that put both military and civilian targets at risk in Afghanistan. Click here to learn more about how arts, including textile weaving and manufacturing, tell the story of Afghanistan's history of radical change. Photograph courtesy Ann W. Norton

This painted cloth depicts different land mines that put both military and civilian targets at risk in Afghanistan. Click here to learn more about how arts, including textile weaving and manufacturing, tell the story of Afghanistan’s history of radical change.
Photograph courtesy Ann W. Norton


  • Read our short article on the International Day of Mine Awareness, as well as the richly illustrated Nat Geo News article on gender equity in the de-mining effort in Mozambique. What are land mines?
    • Land mines are small explosive device hidden just under the surface of the Earth. Land mines detonate when pressure is put on them, usually by people (antipersonnel mines) or vehicles (antitank mines).
    • There are three major types of antipersonnel land mines.
      • explosive blast effect antipersonnel land mines: These weapons are “designed to rip off the lower half of the leg and [then] project shoe, dirt, and bone [debris] higher up into the leg, causing secondary infection and higher amputation.”
      • fragmentation antipersonnel land mines: These weapons “have metal casings designed to rupture into fragments upon the detonation of the mine, or are stuffed with ball bearings, flechettes (tiny metal darts), or metal fragments that are turned into lethal projectiles by the detonation of the mine. They can cause extensive damage to the legs, stomach and chest.”
      • bounding antipersonnel land mines: These “bouncing betties” have a two-part detonation: “Once triggered, a first charge lifts the mine up to waist height before fully detonating. Upon detonation, the explosion shoots out metal fragments in a 360-degree horizontal arc.”


  • Why do land mines remain an often-fatal legacy of war long after the conflicts are over? Read our short article for some help.
    • When conflicts (such as wars) are resolved, land mines are often forgotten as people move back to formerly conflict-ridden areas. The only way to remove land mines is to de-activate them one at a time—a dangerous job where even trained experts are threatened by accidental explosions.
    • Hidden land mines kill more than 15,000 people around the world every year. Thousands more lose legs as they step on the devices. Due to land mines’ association with these casualties, in 2012, the United Nations launched the “Lend Your Leg” campaign. By simply raising your pant leg, you can raise awareness of the devastating impact of land mines, and support survivors.


  • Some of the best information on land mines comes from organizations such as CARE and UNICEF, which are focused on children’s rights and welfare. Why do you think land mines put women and children at particular risk?
    • According to CARE, children die because, being smaller, their vital organs are closer to the blast. Weapons designed to detonate at knee-height on an adult detonate at chest-height on a child.
    • One expert quoted in the Nat Geo article explains why women in Mozambique are at risk. “Women are the people in Mozambique who are responsible for gathering firewood and water, and for tilling the fields,” says Kate Brady of the United Nations Development Programme in Mozambique. “Therefore, they are [most] likely to be affected by land contamination.”



  • The fascinating aspect of the Nat Geo News article on de-mining in Mozambique is how women are being integrated into the de-mining work force. What are some other traditionally male-dominated industries? Check out Table 6 here for some help. (Note: The following list is in random order.)
    • some military positions, such as combat infantry or fighter pilot
    • construction and HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning)
    • ore mining
    • oil and gas mining and drilling
    • utilities, such as electricity and water supply
    • car dealers
    • aerospace manufacturing
    • telecommunications technicians
    • plastics manufacturing
    • architectural and engineering services
    • rail transportation



Nat Geo: Clearing Land Mines Becomes Women’s Work in Mozambique and Beyond

Nat Geo: International Day of Mine Awareness

CARE: Facts About Landmines

2 responses to “Mine-Clearing is Women’s Work

  1. Pingback: What Happens When Explorers and Students Connect? (part 1) | Nat Geo Education Blog·

  2. Pingback: It’s Strong to the Finach, this Bomb-Sniffing Spinach | Nat Geo Education Blog·

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