A MAG Lao PDR staff member has become only the second woman in the country to pass a Team Leader training course run by UXO Lao, the national clearance agency.
Vilaphanh Soukvilay, of MAG’s All-Female Team in Khammouane province, has become one of the most highly qualified women in the country’s UXO (unexploded ordnance) sector. She passed the course with a score of 97%.
Vilaphanh holding her course certificate. A third of MAG Lao's staff is female.
Vilaphanh and seven other members of MAG staff completed the two-month
training last week. Eleven UXO Lao staff also passed the course.
Graduates of this course are authorised to conduct substantial demolitions of UXO without supervision.
“Now I have completed the course, it will be quicker and easier for me to work than before,” said Vilaphanh. “In the past, when I didn’t recognise an item of UXO I would have to wait for my supervisor. This sometimes meant a delay of two or three days before an item could be demolished.”
Women should be given the opportunity to be involved in UXO clearance, said
Lisa Ognjanovic, MAG Lao’s Community Liaison Manager.
A recent gender study conducted by MAG Lao PDR found that both men and women want to contribute to the development of their country. It also found that women do not see any barriers to their involvement in the sector.
“Employing women raises their status because they often become the primary income earner in their family,” said Lisa. “This gives them decision making power in their families. When you’re talking about empowerment of women, that’s a very positive thing.”
Vilaphanh recently returned to work after giving birth to her first child. One third of MAG Lao’s staff is female. All female employees are provided with paid maternity leave and support to return to work.
The gender study was jointly funded by the US Department of State, Good Gifts and AMR (Actiefonds Mijnen Ruimen).
Tom Morgan, Communications Officer, MAG Lao
2 June 08