Cameroon: Honoring the Resilience of Refugee Women

10 December 2019

Dae is a refugee living in Cameroon. She has been elected President of the Gado Women’s Association. (Jesuit Refugee Service)

Violence against women is one of the most devastating human rights violations, and it has psychological, sexual, and reproductive health consequences that can affect women for years. Refugee women and girls are particularly vulnerable to all forms of gender-based sexual and physical violence and, in some cases, it is what pushed them to leave their homes.

Last week we recognized International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and we reaffirm our commitment to provide refugee women with protection and psychosocial support.

Echoing Pope Francis’ words: “It is not right for us to look the other way and let the dignity of so many women, especially young women, be trampled upon.”

Read the testimonies of these refugee women living in a camp in Cameroon. Despite their traumatic past, they found the strength to learn how to read and write through JRS literacy courses and to encourage other women to rebuild their lives.


Dae is a refugee living in Cameroon. She has been elected president of the Gado Women’s Association.

“Just by being women we endure many challenges, such as being condemned to inequality from the time we are born.”

Dae is a refugee living in Cameroon. She has been re-elected President of the Gado Women’s Association twice in a row. “Using my position as President of the association, I try to help all women in the community by giving them confidence.”


As a child, Adidja, a refugee from the Central African Republic, never had the opportunity to go to school. “It has caused me great harm, because I always wanted to be like the other children who knew how to read and write.”

Now, she attends JRS Literacy Courses in Bertoua, Cameroon: “I feel very proud. I think I will be able to do everything in my life, now that I can read and write”.


Despite a traumatic past, now Wabi is the President of the Association for Peace and Life in Gado refugee camp and, as a student herself, she is also a promoter of JRS literacy courses. “Above all, the association is a place where we can share our problems and then cast out trauma from our hearts.”


“There are many women alone in the camps, some of them have lost their husbands during the war, many are illiterate. When people don’t know how to read or write, they are forced to carry out activities that pose a great risk to them”

Fatou is the President of the Association Against Poverty in the Gado refugee camp, Cameroon.