At MAG, we are committed to promoting women and girls’ full, equal and meaningful participation in the humanitarian sector. Only by achieving gender equality will we achieve the global ambition to leave no one behind.
But as Darren Cormack, MAG CEO, says in his statement on the UN's International Women's Day website; "today, and every day, we must #ChooseToChallenge ourselves and our progress at MAG and across the sector. Because there is still much work to be done."
Gender sensitivity and gender equality in our work are vital — armed conflict impacts women, girls, boys and men in different ways.
Women and girls are often disproportionately affected and more likely to experience poverty or be denied their right to education but they are under-represented in planning and decision-making processes.
Including women in decision-making processes and at all levels of the workforce is essential — unlocking an under-tapped pool of talent and bringing the range of perspectives necessary to create a more equitable world.
"We believe that meaningful participation and empowerment of women from all levels of societies, as well as a focus on addressing the gendered root causes of inequality, are both essential to ensure our work is equitable, transformative and sustainable," says Anne Akello, MAG's Gender and Diversity Advisor.
There are fearless and inspiring women and men working with MAG in each of the 25 countries where we work — clearing landmines, reducing the impact of weapons and supporting communities living with a deadly legacy of conflict.
We are incredibly proud to have women like Zouleika in our ranks — Zouleika is the first female deminer in Chad and a true trailblazer. MAG would be nothing without the dedicated and heroic people who work with us, saving lives and building safer futures.
But it is important to recognise that MAG has a long way to go. In 2019, a Mines Action Canada survey of 12 NGOs involved in mine action around the world, including MAG and our peers, found that women made up only 20 per cent of operational staff.
By the end of 2020, thanks to a process of listening and learning, targeted investment, and the committed work of many, that figure was 26 per cent at MAG.
Hiba Ghandour, Gender and Diversity Officer for MAG in Lebanon, says: “It’s a process, but we’re getting there. There’s no solid rule; we’re constantly learning. There shouldn’t be any area where someone says it’s not for women.”
"I have seen a lot of positive changes at MAG, and although we have a way to go, I'd like to highlight the new beginnings we see in countries that are employing more women in technical roles and we are seeing more promoting within teams to the highest operational roles, now held by both women and men," adds Anne.
It is a process that is happening across the sector too. At the international level, in 2019, gender was included for the first time in the Mine Ban Treaty’s action plan, following advocacy efforts by a gender working group co-chaired by MAG and governments which championed gender equality.
In practice, this means that countries party to the Mine Ban Treaty must take into account the different needs of women, girls, boys, and men when planning activities such as landmine clearance — and strive to ensure the active participation of women in international meetings.
MAG and the mine action sector is on a journey, and we have a long way still to go. But we won't reach our destination unless we continue to challenge ourselves and the status quo— and turn ambition into action.