The Documentary: The Number One Ladies’ Landmine Agency

Wednesday 21 November

11.30am-12.00pm

BBC WORLD SERVICE

After President Trump’s recent call for Spain to build a wall across the Sahara Desert to curb African migration into Europe, we follow a unique group of Sahrawi women working alongside the world’s longest minefield, the 2,700km sand wall or berm built by Morocco across the region.

We join Baba, Minetou, Nora and the team working in temperatures exceeding 42°c (107°f), hundreds of miles from even rudimentary medical care, as they risk their lives in Western Sahara’s so-called 'Liberated Territories' east of the Berm, clearing some of the seven million landmines and unexploded bombs left over from the still unresolved conflict between Morocco and the ethnic Sahrawi liberation movement, the Polisario Front.

Despite decades of paralysis in the UN-led decolonisation and referendum process, and some little scepticism in their own society, over sweet Sahrawi tea and camel pizza we learn how these young women have realised universal aspirations to an education, a family and a vocation, and beyond those goals to act as role models in a community exiled and forgotten deep in the Sahara for more than 40 years.

Dreaming of a day they might reside freely in an independent homeland, but living in an era defined by calls to 'Build That Wall', Number One Ladies’ Landmine Agency reveals a story of hope and tolerance embodied by a group of young women redefining the stereotype of the veiled, subjugated Arab woman, whose shared mission is to tear down barriers in all their forms.

This documentary is airing as part of the BBC’s 100 Women season, returning for the sixth year this autumn to shine a spotlight on women’s experiences around the world with three weeks of special programmes, features, big name interviews and digital content across the BBC’s international TV and radio services and online.

  • Produced by Ivan Broadhead for BBC World Service

EM3