The coalition is made up of Forum pour la Mémoire Vigilante, LUNA Africa and ITEKA YOUTH Organisation. They all operate in Rwanda.

In a memorandum of understanding signed by their representatives, the three organizations pledge, in keeping with their own objectives, to pursue and deepen their cooperation with a view to jointly developing their potential for action in the field of medico-psycho-social services, and mental health in particular.

To this end, the three organizations agree to form a consortium with the aim of working together in Rwanda and beyond its borders.

The ultimate aim is to promote the planning, development and implementation of joint projects, actions and activities in the aforementioned field. The mobilization of funds and the submission of proposals in response to the call for proposals for projects and the organization of seminars, symposia, colloquia and conferences related to these key areas in the lives of women in general and those in vulnerable situations and/or refugees in particular.

The launch of this consortium coincided with the celebration of International Women’s Day 2024.

The three organizations met in Muhanga, one of the districts of Rwanda’s southern province, to join forces with local women who have shown a remarkable resilience in breaking the silence and taking charge of their own lives in difficult and sometimes untenable times. These are mainly refugee women, but also others from the host community.

Discussions were held in support of mental health. They were led by Berabose Aline Joyce, CEO of LUNA Africa, Jéremie Hatangimana in charge of program in ITEKA Youth Organisation and Réverien Gahimbare, CEO of FMV.

They mentioned in particular a major regional project on this aspect. The aim is to raise awareness, firstly among the women themselves who are victims, and then among the various stakeholders, including doctors and nurses, as well as decision-makers and the various services where women’s professions are more vulnerable, of the need to take charge of women’s mental health, especially after they have fulfilled their specific role of giving life (reproduction).

The idea is supported by the fact that the figures are alarming, according to Dr Denis Kazungu, a clinical psychologist and psychopathologist who also moderated the debates, especially as he is a specialist in the field.

According to Dr. Kazungu, post-paternal depression is a phenomenon that remains unidentified and unknown to the general public, including the various healthcare professionals, despite the fact that it affects a large number of women, who are the driving force behind the development of societies and hence of countries.

“It’s this pillar, the woman, whose mental health must be preserved, and we unfortunately forget that it’s the center of everything. When it comes to mental health, women in particular have been forgotten, even though they face mental health problems that are specific to them and linked to their role as givers of life”, he points out.

According to the results of research consulted and analyzed by Dr. Denis Kazungu, we need only mention cases of abortion with no known medical cause (29-40%), miscarriages (15-20%), 38% of which suffer from post-traumatic stress and mental pathologies, while 1/5 of women suffer from anxiety just 3 months afterwards and 1/3 are affected in their professional life, while 40% experience a negative impact on their personal relationships; infertility due to psychological causes (20%).

“We can’t forget post-partum depression (17-20%), a phenomenon that remains little-known even in health care structures.

Professional and/or parental burn-out is 28% in women versus 20% in men, psychological distress is 18% in women versus 12% in men, while 40% of women suffer from insomnia and difficulty falling asleep versus 28% in men”, explains Dr Kazungu.

“These are just a few examples from a multitude of differences in psychological suffering between men and women, to which we can add the difference in domestic working hours, which have a huge impact on mental health (emotionally demanding), at around 3h30min for women, but less demanding and pleasant for men, at around 2 hours”, he estimates.

Aware of the consequences of this situation, which remains largely unknown to both the women concerned and the care structures and other stakeholders, these three organizations wanted to raise awareness and give them access to this useful information, so as to protect themselves and/or know how to manage the consequences for those who are already victims.

According to Dr Kazungu, once the project is up and running, the three organizations will have taken up the challenge and reduced the gap to enable all women to know how to prevent certain mental health problems linked to their role as givers of life and/or to know where to go in the event of such health concerns.

The participants in the seminar underlined the lack of female mental health professionals because, they regret, many women refrain from being treated by men, especially as the consequences extend to their private parts.

“And sometimes, men don’t understand us, whereas women who have also given birth can easily understand and be more sensitive to the consequences of women’s mental health”, they suggest.

The representatives of these three organizations agree to join forces and step up advocacy on behalf of these women victims of mental health.

A few feminine sanitary towels were distributed to the participants to show that these Rwandan organizations are more concerned by this aspect.

The consortium is unique in that it is made up of women’s, youth and refugee organizations, all under Rwandan law.


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