NCBA Rwanda CEO Calls for Mental Health Integration to Empower Women.

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Lina Mukashyaka Higiro, the Chief Executive Officer of NCBA Rwanda, emphasized the value of supporting not only women’s voices, choices, and power, but also including mental health awareness and support in all activities for empowerment.

She said this on July 20 at a Women Deliver Conference 2023 side event where fresh studies on women’s empowerment through mental health were released. Together with Kate Spade New York and Prospera Global, the event was planned.

According to Higiro, women are expected to take on the job of providing care for their immediate and extended relatives as well as their children, with cultural standards requiring them to be fully present in these tasks.

She claimed that these demands, when coupled with the idea that showing emotion makes women seem weak, further increase the mental stress that women in finance and other fields must deal with.

 

While encouraging candid conversations about physical health has gained popularity, Higiro emphasized the necessity of addressing mental health with the same level of urgency and openness.

She went on to describe how NCBA launched a program to address mental health issues by giving free services and access to a variety of counselors.

“It has helped us change our culture, and our engagement levels are up,” she said.

Higiro urged leaders to be accountable and take action in a society where one in ten women suffer sexual harassment at work and 8% are forced to leave their jobs due to pregnancy.

“As leaders and individuals, the responsibility to prioritize women’s mental health lies with all of us. Only by taking this crucial step can we pave the way for a more equitable and supportive environment for women in finance and beyond,” she said.

In her closing remarks, Higiro urged the audience to consider the study’s findings, emphasizing that trauma is a common occurrence in the lives of many women.

The primary findings were presented by Elisha London, the founder, and CEO of Prospera Global, the company that carried out the research.

She claimed that they discovered that women endure higher pressures just by virtue of being women in the modern world. Ninety percent of practitioners who participated in the survey concur.

Given that 97% of practitioners who responded to the survey agreed that investing in mental health enhances the sustainability of empowerment outcomes, the study also discovered that mental health is fundamental to women’s empowerment.

London also noted that although 55% of gender organizations now incorporate mental health, 61% of practitioners agree that mental health is not sufficiently integrated into work on gender equality and empowerment. She added that the biggest roadblock to progress is funding, as 82% of gender organizations receive no funding for mental health work.

She emphasized the necessity for practitioners to receive help for their own mental health, noting that those who work for or advocate for women’s empowerment are twice as likely to become burned out.

The study also showed that 96% of those involved in women’s empowerment believe that women have a right to healthy mental health.

 

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