1. Callister, Lynn Clark PhD, RN, FAAN

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An integral part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals is empowering women (United Nations, 2019). Resilience is the ability to recover from or adjust to misfortune or change (Merriam-Webster, 2019). Women with resilience overcome overwhelming challenges in their lives. Recently, I witnessed a Sudanese woman who is a human rights defender and social worker, Karak Mayik Denyok Miakol, receive the Peacemaker Award from the Center for Conflict Resolution at Brigham Young University School of Law. An MCN Global Health and Nursing column was written about her (Callister, 2015). As I consider her life work helping women overcome the devastation of poverty and degradation in South Sudan, I am amazed by her resilience as evidenced by her strength and courage.


In conjunction with International Women's Day, United Nations Women (2019) shared stories of vulnerable women living in one of the largest refugee camps in the world who are overcoming overwhelming obstacles. These women live in the Kakuma refugee camp and Kalobeyei settlement in northwestern Kenya. Their inspiring narratives exemplify what resilience is all about.


Amina was 17 years old when she left the Democratic Republic of Congo in the face of life-heightening military conflict. Seven years later, she is a film maker documenting the stories of refugee women. Her first film was about her own life. Her most recent film focusing on female genital mutilation was filmed in the refugee camp. Her current project is a documentary that describes life as a refugee (United Nations Women, 2019).


Christina is a widow who has the distinction of being the only female mechanic in the Kakuma township. She is passionate about ensuring that her children have an education as well as supporting her brothers and sisters. She tells other women Do not fear. Work is work. Nothing's hard for a woman, it's only in the mind (United Nations Women, 2019).


Refika is a Sudanese refugee in the camp who escaped war with her six children. She learned to create eco-friendly stoves (jikos), a skill she learned from her grandfather. These handmade wire stoves are efficient, minimizing the use of charcoal. In addition to her work, she is getting schooling to improve life for her family (United Nations Women, 2019).


Beatrice escaped from Burundi after being brutally raped. Traumatized by her horrific experiences, she asked a humanitarian worker, If someone has no hope, can you return that hope? She is now a dressmaker who learned tailoring skills through the Danish Refugee Council. She teaches tailoring to other refugee women and says, Look at me...I finally found some peace of mind. I accepted myself-now I am shining (United Nations Women, 2019).


Nyamam aspires to be a software engineer as she studies in the Angelina Jolie Primary School in Kakuma that sponsors information technology classes in the Kakuma refugee camp (United Nations Women, 2019). She is among other women and girls who are supported by the program Women's Leadership, Empowerment, Access, and Protection in Crisis Response that is funded by the Japanese government in conjunction with UN Women. Other partners include FilmAid and the Danish Refugee Council.


A life course approach to women's health and wellbeing should include facilitating the development of resilience, by allocation of resources to address quality of life (Norton, Peters, Jha, Kennedy, & Woodward, 2019). These are remarkable women whose resilience has been tried and is being refined and honed. These are women who have experienced gender vulnerability and demonstrate the ability to bounce back through their capability of adapting to adversity. It is important for nurses to be aware of how many women are persevering around the world in sometimes very daunting circumstances, so they can be ready to help if encountering these types of women as immigrants to the United States.




Callister L. C. (2015). Empowering Sudanese women and promoting their health and well-being: The courage and commitment of one woman. MCN. The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing, 40(5), 331. [Context Link]


Merriam-Webster. (2019). Dictionary. Retrieved from[Context Link]


Norton R., Peters S., Jha V., Kennedy S., Woodward M. (2019). Women's health: A new global agenda. Oxford, England: University of Oxford. [Context Link]


United Nations. (2019). Sustainable development goals: Target for 2030. New York, NY: Author. Retrieved from[Context Link]


United Nations Women. (2019). Not waiting for handouts: Five stories of resilience from one of the world's largest refugee camps. New York, NY: Author. Retrieved from[Context Link]