Gender in the Military: A Phenomenological Study of the Lived Experience of Female Soldiers in the Cameroon Army

James Kewir Kiven, Patience Munge Sone


The number of women engaged in the Cameroonian Army continues to increase over the years, but their involvement is still over-shadowed by that of men. Although the importance of research activities to understand the experiences of women in the military is increasingly accepted, they remain very rare or ignored in Cameroon. This qualitative phenomenological study aimed to reveal and describe the gender experiences of a purposive sample of ten female soldiers in the Cameroonian military. One in-depth interview was conducted with each of the participants. Analysis of the data revealed five themes. The results suggest that the army remains a male dominated environment in which women face unique challenges that can be overcome by adopting coping strategies that depend on one’s strength and receiving appropriate support as well as mentorship especially from senior servicewomen. Stereotyping, sexual harassment and underrepresentation in combat arms branches constitute major obstacles to the full integration of female soldiers.

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