Arman Abdillahi Cilmi, deminer, HALO Somaliland
After work, Arman Abdillahi Cilmi, Aswaan Ciise Ismail and Hoodo Maxamed Abdi gather with their colleagues in HALO's demining camp at Ina Guuxa. Level-headed and determined, they only joined HALO in December but are already demonstrating their leadership potential.
In Somaliland, women face gender inequality in both domestic and public life. They are excluded from decision making processes and have few educational or employment opportunities. Over fifty per cent of women aged 15-24 are not in education or employment and many have never had the opportunity to learn to read and write.
But Asrman, Aswan and Hoodo are changing this narrative. They are all members of the Gabooye clan who have traditionally been subject to social segregation and economic deprivation—making opportunities for women to achieve their potential even more scarce. Working with the Somaliland Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs and clan elders, HALO recently recruited ten Gabooye women to train as deminers.
This is how change starts, with the ambitions of women like Arman, Aswann and Hoodo to make a difference, to lead their communities and shape their future. On International Women's Day they reflect on their new status as deminers and their hopes for the future.
"Before HALO we were all unemployed. We felt like lesser citizens when we were not working. Now we are enjoying being deminers a lot. We want to be part of a larger community of working women. It is important, so that we can gain experience and be at the same level in society as others.
We have adapted to the environment quickly and made new friends. Working with the other women has helped us a lot because they are a support system. Everyday we wake up at 4am and go to the minefield at 5am. We work from 6am until midday with a 10 minute break every hour. Our uniform helps keep us cool. We get good food and feel very safe whilst we are staying in the demining camps (The minefields where the women work are remote, so they live together in tented camps during the work cycle.) Even though working with men would help with the physical demands of the job, we prefer working in a team of women so that we can share our personal stories with each other.
After work we can do literacy and numeracy classes in the camp—six days a week from 6pm to 8pm. We are enjoying it. We started at different levels—some of us were studying before but we were unable to pay the fees without work.
Aswaan Ciise Ismail, deminer, HALO Somaliland
One day when we finish working for HALO, we will leave having been educated and with experience from a NGO that everyone knows.
Since joining HALO we have become ambitious—we are able to help our families and the community by clearing dangerous items such as landmines. We miss our families but they are very proud of us."