In Africa, women are generally known to be strong, self-employed and often even the sole breadwinner. They have primary responsibility when it comes to cover the daily needs, caring for the family and child-rearing, and are the first to stand up and the last ones to bed. They also participate actively in important social processes, as both family and social network, represents their economical and psychological safety net. In Norway, the same women often feel helpless because their role is quite different and less significant than in their home country.
Coming to Norway represents a major transition from a close family ties and an independent and active social life in the home country to an individualistic society and a very limited social network. Besides, unemployment is a big problem for many African women in Norway. Many cannot use their knowledge and resources on the Norwegian labor market. It is well known that social network is an important tool when it comes to obtaining employment. African women do not have such network in Norway. All this may create passivity, helplessness, low self-esteem and anxiety; and it affects their quality of life and their physical and mental health.
PAWA and Mental Health
Many African women have expressed to PAWA that they struggle with great mental stress as they lack a social network to rely on in relation to the challenges they face in their everyday lives. Challenges such as loneliness, being a single parent, raising children in a foreign country, family conflicts, domestic violence, divorce, or how to navigate in the Norwegian society and utilize the opportunities that exist in Norway.
Therefore, PAWA felt that there is a great need to establish resource network where women can participate and exchange knowledge and experiences.