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  • Diana Abu Znaid delivering Explosive Ordnance Risk Education to school children. Photo: UNMAS/Mohammad Janajrah

Explosive Ordnance Risk Education Campaign Led by Women in the West Bank

The year 2021 was a turning point in the Palestine Mine Action Center’s (PMAC) work, specifically their visibility in the field and conducting wider awareness campaigns against the dangers of explosive remnants of war (ERW).

With the continued support of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) Palestine Programme, PMAC was able to launch and implement explosive ordnance risk education (EORE) sessions for women, men, boys, and girls in 15 areas across the West Bank. This is the first time the PMAC implemented EORE sessions through a volunteer network. UNMAS provided support and advice to the PMAC in identifying the selected volunteers, of which 70% were women.

Diana Abu Znaid, a 22-year-old university student, was one of the volunteers trained to deliver  EORE to school students and  farmers as  well as participated  in a street campaign in the Hebron Governorate.  

Diana said, “When I applied to participate as a volunteer in awareness campaigns about explosive remnants of war, my goal was university cooperative work, but my goal quickly changed, especially after I received the training in delivering EORE sessions. I felt the importance of my role in serving my community and I should be part of this community awareness.”

When describing her experience as a young female volunteer, she noted, ”I felt very confident in myself, and I felt that I was sufficiently responsible to be part of this risk education. I became a strong and independent woman capable of providing awareness to men, women, and children. It is a wonderful feeling to transfer knowledge and awareness to others, especially to children and people in marginalized areas who are not aware of the dangers of explosive remnants of war.” 

Women and girls, you are the leaders of change! With your power, you can lead to a positive change in Palestine!

In some situations, the presence of a female volunteer ensures that in vulnerable communities, women and children can be reached through targeting women’s and family centers. In other situations, UNMAS has found that mixed gender teams work best as they can increase the efficiency and effectiveness in delivering EORE to communities for a coherent and multidimensional response to the different needs and priorities of women, girls, boys, and men. 

Throughout 2021, UNMAS continued to provide technical advice and guidance to the PMAC in the West Bank and adapted the methods of capacity building and developing  awareness materials and educational messages so that the provision of EORE promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women.

As a whole, PMAC has made progress toward mainstreaming gender in a number of areas, particularly in EORE and community liaison. 

Diana shared some of the challenges she faced in this context as a volunteer when first learning about EORE and ERW and understanding the issues and challenges in the West Bank. UNMAS technically supported the PMAC by training the PMAC EORE staff to be trainers volunteers, like Diana, to conduct EORE sessions.

Diana’s favorite quote is "we are all one hand to maintain a conscious and safe society." Diana faced challenges in accessing the targeted areas, but this didn't stop her. She was inspired by what she was doing, because she believes each of us are responsible to serve the community regardless of age, gender, or challenges faced.

During 2021, PMAC with the support of UNMAS delivered a total of 400 EORE sessions to over 10,000 direct beneficiaries. In addition, the project reached many more indirect beneficiaries through EORE activities, including a billboard campaign, video game app, and radio broadcasts of EORE messages.

Diana is just one of the many young female volunteers who are strong and independent women capable of delivering EORE and just need the opportunity to discover themselves, build their capabilities, and empower themselves.