In New Book, Catholic Missionary Nun Discusses Challenges of Refugee Women in Angolan Labor Market

In a new book, a Brazilian-born Catholic nun has discussed the challenges that refugee women in Angola face, including the phenomenon of brain drain in the Southern African nation.

Published under the title, “Being a Refugee Woman, Challenges of Insertion into the Angolan Labor Market”, the 240-page book is a fruit of 11 years of service among refugees in Angola, Sr. Neide Lamperti, the author, told ACI Africa, recalling the years she served as Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People in Angola and São Tomé (CEPAMI).

“It's a publication that talks about women's lives,” she said during the Wednesday, May 22 interview, and emphasized, “These are real women's stories; they are stories of women who have crossed borders, fleeing wars in various African countries.”

The member of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Saint Charles Borromeo (Scalabrinians) recalled the challenges of women, saying, “During these 11 years, I could see that the women were unable to evolve in their state of life. They continued in the same social line, in the same difficulty, and through research, I tried to find out what was going on with these women,”

“I discovered that being a woman is already a difficulty on the African continent due to cultural issues, social issues and other issues, and being a migrant or a refugee is a double victimization of women,” Sr. Lamperti said, highlighting some of the book content that is based on interviews she conducted with women of six African nationalities.


“Women live the double victimization because they are already rejected; they are excluded; they are made invisible,” she added.

Women in Africa, Sr. Lamperti continued, “are stigmatized for being refugees by their own title, which they continue to hold, because being a refugee is not for life, it shouldn't be for life.” 

However, lamented, “the women who live in Angola have been refugees for 30, 40 years and that doesn't give them permission, many times, even to enter the job market, because they don't have documents; they don't have access to education; they don't have access to health; they don't have access to work when they go to look for a job.”

The challenges women refugees in Angola face cut across all nationalities, the 51-year-old Scalabrinian missionary, who has been in Religious Life for the last three decades or 30 years, told ACI Africa.

“We tried to interview women of different nationalities. In this book there are women from six nationalities, the largest number being from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Then there's Burundi, Liberia, the Central African Republic, Rwanda and others,” she said.

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In this book, she continued, “there are also stories of women who were survivors of Rwanda’s genocide. There is a special chapter that talks about the trajectories of women when they cross borders.”

“It has stories about the social reality of Angola, where the women live. It has a chapter on women's journeys; what paths did these women take to get to Angola and what happened along the way,” she said.

There's also a chapter that talks about the difference between immigration and refugee, because it's different from a migrant and it's different from a refugee,” Sr. Lamperti said.  

Other discussions in the new book include the “very current data on migrants, repatriated refugees, the brain drain, human rights violence in Angola, in some cases human trafficking,” she told ACI Africa.

The immediate former Executive Secretary of CEPAMI said the Angolan government must assume its responsibilities to guarantee the rights of these women. 


“The state has a responsibility in these migratory issues to provide documentation, to defend women's rights; Angola has a responsibility in implementing public policies for refugees,” she emphasized, and decried the laxity of the Angolan government.

Sr. Lamperti highlighted the role of the Church to welcome, protect, promote and integrate the women as important. 

The new book is to be launched on May 28 at the Catholic University of Angola (UCA).

João Vissesse is an Angolan Journalist with a passion and rich experience in Catholic Church Communication and Media Apostolate.