Refugee Stories

Refugee women climb Morocco's highest peak to raise awareness about gender-based violence

It is estimated that one in five women will experience sexual or physical violence during their lifetime. Refugee women and girls are especially vulnerable when forced to flee conflict and persecutions — which further increases the threat of gender-based violence (GBV).

As a part of UNHCR's participation in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign, 13 refugee women from around the world scaled the summit of Mount Toubkal, Morocco’s highest peak, to raise awareness about the movement to end violence against women.

Meet three inspiring women who, despite facing hardship and trauma, made the trek to raise awareness of the challenges and threats facing refugee women.

Hanin

"We want to send a message specifically to women that we are with you." 

Hanin fled Syria in 2012 due to the ongoing conflict. She found safety and a chance to restart her life in Morocco but continued to miss parts of Syria that made home so special. Scaling Mount Toubkal was an unforgettable journey and gave Hanin a chance to experience a part of Morocco that reminded her of her home.

"I haven't seen snow since I left Syria," she says. "I can't believe I get to see it again." 

Farida

“It did us all the world of good."

Farida, a refugee from the Republic of the Congo, who in 2018 found refuge in Morocco, also scaled Mount Toubkal to show her support for other refugee women. Despite being a professional athlete — she plays professional soccer — Farida found the climb challenging yet rewarding.

"It wasn't easy. We walked the whole day, but in the end, it did us all the world of good," says Farida.

 Valérie

"It allowed me to face my fears."

For Valérie, a refugee originally from Cameroon, climbing Mount Toubkal brought back difficult memories of her experience fleeing her home. Still, the overall experience was therapeutic and it allowed her to reflect on her journey to Morocco. 

Valérie found refuge in Morocco after a perilous month-long journey through the deserts of Niger and Algeria. 

 "The atmosphere here with all these women was great. When we had the energy, we sang, we yelled and we danced," she shares. "For me, it was like a therapy…because it allowed me to face my fears and to have hope in life.”  

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