On 24 February 2022, The International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG) hosted the ‘Only Peace Dialogue’, an annually held global event aimed to promote IWPG’s activities. Various aspiring women that have a common aim of contributing peace to society attended the event whose theme was “The importance of mental health as we advocate for sustainable Gender Equality”. The event was attended by 148 participants.
The topics presented by the invited speakers included, “The Role of Media in mental health for a sustainable tomorrow”, “Gender equality within Education” and “Gender Equality through the lens of the DPCW.”
Following the COVID-19 Pandemic, studies have shown a decline in women’s mental health due to the increase in Gender Based Violence and Gender Inequality. It is also noteworthy than the risk of anxiety, depression and PTSD due to exposure trauma caused by experienced violence is higher amongst women.
Dr Julia Mutambara, a Clinical Psychologist and Chairperson of the Positive Living and Resilience Center (PORE) pointed out that women play a pivotal role in the society as they are the pillars of families and communities, and that, due to the numerous roles women are obligated to fulfil, they are subject to mental health challenges. Some of the mental health challenges that were alluded to by the speaker include, exposure to hardships – for instance becoming victims of domestic violence; under-representation of women in influential positions at various levels of management; stereotyping of women; and many others. She addressed women’s mental health in the African Context.
Ms Preshanie Maharaj, Principal of Teddy Bears Montessori Pre-school, addressed the issue of ‘Women and Mental Health in the Workplace’ saying, “Women’s mental health is an important element in one’s overall well-being and contentedness, as it is crucial to maintaining cognitive alternates, emotional sanity and the ability to balance our work, parental, societal and personal relationships.” She further shared that the expectation upon women to take up multiple roles- at home and at the workplace- ends up taking a toll if one isn’t mentally balanced.
In 2022, the Southern African branch of IWPG plans to work collaboratively with its peace committee members and IWPG Peace Lecturers from across 10 participating countries to spread peace culture in their communities.