Erin Hunt is a programme officer at Mines Action Canada. The opinions expressed are her own.
In many countries around the world, rural women face danger with every step they take. In areas contaminated by landmines, cluster munitions and other victim activated weapons, one step can mean death or disability.
When land is contaminated by landmines and cluster bombs, the entire community feels the impact. If husbands and fathers are killed or injured, women become the sole breadwinners for their families.
Also, rural women frequently become the main caregivers for people injured by mines and cluster munitions.
Tasks like fetching water, searching for firewood and cultivating farms can put rural women at risk of activating landmines or unexploded ordinance.
Often women face a choice: use contaminated land or be unable to feed their families. The reality is there is no choice - they must risk death so their families can eat.
Faced with this reality, rural women around the world are taking concrete actions to make their communities safe again.
Beyond the important roles they play in teaching the dangers of landmines and cluster munitions and in advocating against these indiscriminate weapons, rural women are being hired to de-mine the land.
Although de-mining is typically thought of as men’s work, female de-mining teams have cleared land in South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Laos, Western Sahara, Lebanon and Cambodia.
De-mining is difficult and dangerous work that is often carried out under tough conditions far away from their families.
The work may be challenging but it is immensely rewarding.
Rural women are able to support their families with a steady salary allowing their children to attend school, to pay for health care when needed and to have nutritious meals.
The women take pride in knowing that they are safeguarding the lives of men, women and children, returning land to farmers and opening up trade routes for their communities.
Due to the work of female deminers and their male colleagues, communities are able to farm their land without fear providing food and income to families on the edge of survival.
Every day female de-miners are helping their communities move out of poverty and danger and into safe prosperity.