Afghanistan: From One Woman to Another – The Future of Mine Risk Education

In Afghanistan, with prolonged security instability, at least 40 people a month still fall victims of mines and UXOs. In an effort to help people protect themselves from the risk of landmines, AAR Japan started conducting Mine Risk Education in 2002 to educate people about what mines and UXOs look like and what to do when they find them. In 2005, AAR Japan introduced the "mobile cinema lecture" which contained internally developed short films to be shown as part of the Mine Risk Education. After watching the film, AAR Japan’s local staff provides explanation about different types of mines and their risks using posters and other materials. With limited entertainment in the country, this lecture, a rare opportunity to see a "film", has been very popular. In the beginning, however, women did not participate in the lectures simply because they were taught by male lecturers. Afghan cultural custom does not allow for adult women to be in the same room as men other than their family members.

Mobile cinema lecture for women (April 23rd, 2014)

Emphasizing the importance of women's roles 

Because women in Afghanistan rarely go out of their homes, the majority of mine and UXO victims are men and children. However, it is the mother’s responsibility to discipline their children at home. AAR Japan has emphasized landmine education for women, as we believe that if mothers have the knowledge about mines and UXOs, it would help protect their children too. Since female lecturers started giving the "mobile cinema lecture" in 2012, women’s participation has drastically increased. As a result of our efforts to give lectures at places like clinics and women’s assistance centers, the number of female participants increased from less than 100 in 2010 to 10,000 in 2013.

After watching the film, female AAR Japan staff shows photos of different types of mines and explains the risks. (April 15th, 2014)

"We want to protect our children."

Until last year, only AAR Japan staff gave lectures, but they now train local volunteers to be mine risk instructors. AAR Japan believes that sharing knowledge of Mine Risk Education accumulated over the years will enable the local people to educate others about the risks of mines and UXOs. AAR Japan trained 120 male instructors last year and has started the effort to increase the number of female instructors this year.

One of the women who applied to be an instructor is a schoolteacher in Kabul. Acknowledging that mines and UXOs are threats, particularly to children, she decided to receive the training. She explained, "Calling attention to the risks of mines and UXOs is all Afghan people's responsibilities, including myself. Mine Risk Education is very effective and it actually reduces the number of accidents." Having had the training, she now lectures about mine risks at the school where she works – "I want my students to share their knowledge with their friends and families". In total so far, ten women have completed the training to become mine risk instructors. AAR Japan will continue these mine and UXO activities in the hope that the right knowledge will be passed on - from one local to another; from one woman to another - and that one day there will be no more mine or UXO victims.

These activities have been made possible thanks to your warm support and the funds provided by JPF (Japan Platform).

Kiyomi MIYAGOE, AAR Japan Tokyo Office
After graduating from university, MIYAGOE worked at a stock brokerage firm. Then, she became an NGO expatriate in the international corporation sector and worked on refugee assistance in Iran and Jordan. MIYAGOE joined AAR Japan in October 2013 and is in charge of our Afghanistan operations. MIYAGOE was born in Miyazaki Prefecture. (Profile as of the date of the article).

Japanese-English translation by Ms. Satoko Koyama
English editing by Mr. Peter Bungate

The article on this page has been translated by volunteers as part of the AAR Japan's Volunteer Programme. Their generous contributions allow us to spread our activities and ideas globally, through an ever-growing selection of our reports from the field.