This landmark volume looks closely at the mental health of women in Africa, a topic that has been virtually unexplored until now. Replete with some of the most provocative feminist issues of the day, Women's Mental Health in Africa examines the economic, physical, and social factors that have a major impact on the psychological well-being of women in African countries. Feminist researchers unravel the enormously complicated social system and the traditional cultural values and taboos that are directly related to women's self concepts.Because the etiology of women's suicide is central to sexual and reproductive issues, these topics are an important focus of this volume. Authoritative contributors discuss the common practices of clitoridectomy and infibulation and the resulting infections, infertility, problems in childbirth, and lack of sexual response. AIDS, a disease whose widespread transmission in Africa is directly linked to unprotected heterosexual intercourse, is another issue vital to women's physical and mental health. Several enlightening chapters focus on other factors responsible for the perpetuation of the disease, including polygamy; the denial by many African nations of the threat of the disease to its citizens; and the incidence of female genital mutilation, which geographically corresponds to the spread of AIDS in Africa. Marriage, the double standard, infidelity, and family planning are also examined as factors in women's mental health.Several researchers address the reasons for healthy psychological functioning among women in countries where counseling and therapy are not commonly sought. Participation in social support networks, which are abundant in some African societies, lessens the deleterious effects of stress and isolation and provides emotional support that contributes to positive self images, self worth, and reinforcement of desirable coping mechanisms. Education as a means of role fulfillment is also covered in this fascinating and empowering book.
Contents Gender and Mental Health in Africa