As we celebrate International Women's Day, I will like to take this opportunity to talk about women and mental health.
My theme this year is ‘Why she is fighting back’.
As a woman from an African background, women show great strength in the face of adversity. We hold down multiple jobs, some as single parents with the sole responsibility of looking after our children. Often we take on other unpaid caring responsibilities in the family. Desperation, fear and isolation is an emotional cost for many black women. Some of us, especially from the BAME background are too embarrassed or ashamed to confess that we cannot cope with life’s pressures. We have the tendency to conceal the truth of our difficulties. For those who are brave to talk about their anxiety and depression, are usually seen as weak in our culture. ‘You are possessed’, ‘crazy’, ‘seeking attention’, “somethings white people do”, witchcraft, or black magic, is always responsible for your actions. We are brought up with view that problems must be kept private, and talking about it to an outsider is seen as the ultimate form of betrayal, “Airing our dirty linen in public is shameful. In the African context where marriage and reputation are important, women’s mental health condition often acts as a reference for her role as a wife. Women with mental health issues are faced with the problem of been perceived as an unstable wife.
As we celebrate International Women's Day, this is an opportunity to transform momentum into action, to empower women in all settings, and to realise their full potential.
“Empowering women doesn't come from selfishness, rather from selflessness.”
Happy International Women's Day to all women all over the world.