Clearing Land Mines Becomes Women's Work in Mozambique and Beyond
Women have moved from sidelines to front line in effort to rid war-torn country of mines by year's end.
MAPUTO, Mozambique—When Biatriz Hernesto was a child, she and her school friends longed to pick fruit in the bush behind her grandparents' house. They knew that's where the best marula fruits and other wild treats grew. But they also knew the area contained land mines, so they seldom ventured there.
Hernesto grew up in Maxixe, in southern Mozambique, in the aftermath of a brutal civil war that lasted from 1977 to 1992 and left the southern African country riddled with deadly, unexploded ordnance.
When she saw people coming to clear the land of mines, she hid. "We thought the de-miners were soldiers who would kill us," says Hernesto, now 25.
Many of them were, in fact, former fighters. Traditionally, mine-clearing efforts