Mhani Gingi and the 1.6 Million Club South Africa host a Women’s Health Seminar in August

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An interactive Women’s Health Seminar to be held in Cape Town on August 22 2015 will feature local and international experts from various medical fields sharing knowledge on women’s empowerment, health and wellness.  The event will be the culmination of a special focus on Women’s Mental Health during National Women’s Month by the Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network in collaboration with the 1.6 Million Club South Africa.

The Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network is a non-profit organisation (NPO) whose mission is to work towards the economic empowerment of women and youth by providing them with the entrepreneurial skills to create independent and sustainable livelihoods for themselves.  Alexandra Charles, Founder and President of the 1.6 Million Club Sweden, will provide an introduction to the 1.6 Million Club South Africa and its global significance in her speech at the Women’s Health Seminar and Women’s Health Brunch to be held at the Jubilee Church in Observatory on Saturday August 22. 

The interactive seminar will address various aspects of Women’s Mental Health, which plays a vital role in creating holistic health and well-being.  Local and international experts who will address the Women’s Health Seminar include Integrative Medicine practitioner, MD, Dr Leila Sadien MB, ChB, speaking on “An Integrative Approach to Stress Management”.  Two other key speakers are from Sweden.  Dr Dorota Religa, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in the Division of Neurogeriatrics at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, will address the seminar on the topic of “Dementia and Women – as patients and as care-givers”.  Dr Religa will focus especially on Alzheimer's disease.  She will present the data from her study showing that dementia diagnosis differs in men and women, depending on age and dementia severity, using data from SveDem, the Swedish Dementia Quality Registry.

Global mental health

Professor Solvig Ekblad, licensed psychologist at Academic Primary Health Care Centre, Head of the Cultural Medicine Unit in the Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics (LIME) and Professor in Multicultural Healthcare Research at the Karolinska Institute, will address the topic of “Global Mental Health:  To empower local women's health by a tailor-made and evidence-based lifestyle course”.  Professor Ekblad’s present research in the field of global mental health concerns encounters between doctors and refugee patients.  She has conducted research on the impact of primary health clinics facilities and on a lifestyle course for female immigrants. 

Professor Ekblad will refer to why there is increasing interest globally in women's mental health.  Among the reasons researched by Arjadi et al (2015) and Williams et al (2005) is a growing awareness of disability burdens, with a quarter of women experiencing mental health problems during their lifetime.  Links between mental health and economic problems, as well as with human rights issues, are other factors.

She will also raise possibilities for adaptation and collaboration between the 1.6 Million Club South Africa and the 1.6 Million Club Sweden and 2.6 Million Club Sweden, on a health promotion intervention for women in the South African context.  “During our visit, as a first step, we will give knowledge and share experiences of the concept for a health promotion intervention to women in the South African context,” she said.

A panel at the Women’s Health Seminar will discuss the mental health challenges that need to be met to unlock the great potential that South African women hold.  Experts will deliberate the topic from the perspectives of Gender-based Violence (GBV), Substance Abuse, Nutrition/Exercise, HIV/AIDS, Pregnancy and Motherhood (perinatal phase) and Economy/Education. 

Economic empowerment

Mhani Gingi’s focus on health is directly linked to the organisation’s mission to promote entrepreneurial skills to enable people to escape poverty.  It also reflects the organisation’s integrated and holistic approach to solving social problems – and doing something about them.  “Our emphasis on health links to the economic empowerment and freedom of women because if they are not healthy, they cannot work,” said Founding Director of Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network, Lillian Masebenza.

“Not only will a person who cannot work become stressed, but they will be unable to support themselves, and their families, and this will impact on the community.  So you cannot dissociate the economic problems you wish to address from the social problems.  This links back to the poverty cycle, which cannot be broken unless you view the problem in its social entirety and the individual as a whole,” she said.  When Mhani Gingi launched the inaugural Women’s Innovation Trade Fair (WITF) in 2014, therefore, the topics that were discussed under the overall theme of “The role of Social Entrepreneurship in Women’s Economic Empowerment” were:  Health Issues linked to Nutrition; Education; Agriculture and Food Security; and Social Justice.

Lead-up Events

Mhani Gingi has strengthened its focus on the health and wellness of women through its collaboration with the 1.6 Million Club Sweden, and the 1.6 Million Club South Africa which developed out of the WITF.  “The August 22 workshop therefore was the result of a process, it did not just happen,” said Masebenza.  Two Lead-up Events took place.  At the first interactive women’s health seminar, in Tambo Village on July 25, the topic of Women’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse was addressed by Dr Sadien and other speakers. 

The second interactive women’s health seminar hosted on August 1 in collaboration with the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children focused on Gender-Based Violence (GBV).  The main speaker was psychologist Charl Davids who provided “An Introduction to GBV”.    

This approach to the August 22 event is important.  In order to tackle social problems, and ensure impact and sustainability, Mhani Gingi first engages people on a subject to identify the issues and the problem.  Then an event is held at which the people with the experience of the problem can engage with experts who have knowledge on the topic.  “Mhani Gingi does not stop there but continues to ensure that outcomes emanate from that event and also that implementation occurs in reality as a means of solving the problem,” said Masebenza.  “So the process of input, throughput, outcomes is always followed.   

“When we put something down to attempt to solve a problem, then, we do not do it out of context.  We look at who it affects and how it affects them, and in the discussion that comes out of that we identify outcomes and solutions.  We go on to ensure that implementation of those outcomes of the interaction actually occurs,” said Masebenza. 

Mhani Gingi’s activities include promoting healthy nutrition by teaching the community how to establish gardens and cultivate vegetables as well as undertaking other initiatives to encourage balanced and wholesome lifestyles.

“There is a need to acknowledge and incorporate complementary, alternative and traditional practices within the primary and public health care sectors, especially for those in resource-constrained communities,” adds Professor Gail Hughes, Professor and Director of South African Herbal Science and Medicine Institute at the University of the Western Cape.  “Inclusivity of both conventional and alternative practices is an important step towards achieving overall health, well-being, and a holistic approach for prevention, maintenance, and treatment of key health conditions,” she said.  Hughes is a Board Member of the 1.6 Million Club South Africa.

The 1.6 Million Club South Africa is the sister organisation of the international non-profit women's health organisation, the 1.6 Million Club, formed in Sweden in 1998, which raises awareness and spreads information concerning women’s health and lifestyle issues as well as lobbying for equal, gender-based, medical research.  The name came about because there were 1.6 million women over 45 years of age in Sweden.  Ten years later the 2.6 Million Club was established for younger women.  The 1.6 Million Club South Africa that was launched in Cape Town on February 17 2015 is significant for being the first 1.6 Million Club on the African continent.

To secure seats to the interactive seminar on August 22 please contact 1.6 Million Club South Africa Programme Co-ordinator, Karin Eriksson.  E-mail: millionclubsa@gmail.com.  Telephone:  074 890 1887. 

Or visit: https://millionclubsa.wordpress.com/events/

For further information about Mhani Gingi please contact Lillian Masebenza, Founding Director of Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network.  Telephone:  021 531 8577 or 082 465 4687.  Or visit:  http://www.mhanigingi.co.za


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