The Leader Of The First All-Female Bomb Squad Is A Woman — And A Mom

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Lamis zein tedxwomenI’m at the TedxWomen conference in NYC today and one of the first ladies to take the stage was Lamis Zein, a 30-something divorcee who leads the first all-female cluster bomb disposal team in South Lebanon. Lamis is also a mother of two.

The Lebanese mother told audiences that disposing of bombs for living was not something she initially envisioned for herself, as she was married and had two children. But in 2006, Lamis saw her marriage end and she endured the stigma of being a divorced single mother.

A month later, Lamis heard about a job cleaning up South Lebanon to clear cluster ammunition. She admitted that her family was not thrilled that she was applying, but that she pressed on anyway.

“It was exactly the change I wanted,” she told viewers. “I wanted to do something worth while. I wanted to be proud of what I did.”

Despite her family’s wishes, Lamis applied for the job along with 50 other girls and women. After a month and a half, she received Lebanese accreditation and was chosen as a section commander. As of 2010, she is the site supervisor for an all-female team.

Lamis says that she and her colleagues encountered the same reactions when confronted with scorn for their occupation.

“This job is not for women, it’s for men,” she repeated, remembering the uniformed response. “Women’s job is to teach and be teachers.”

Regardless of the safety risks that Lamis and her team encounter everyday, she maintains that they are all positive role models for their children by taking on work regardless of gender stereotypes. She concluded that she enjoys clearing lands that are frequented by children, their playtime dramatically safer because of her profession.