Meet Hauwa Ojeifo founder of She Writes Woman, a women-led movement giving mental health a voice
She Writes Woman is a platform founded by Hauwa Ojeifo, which aims to raise awareness about mental illnesses in Nigeria and give people struggling with mental health a voice. She is the only Nigerian female recipient of the Queen’s Young Leaders award and is one of the 2019 Obama Foundation Leaders.
Nigerian native Hauwa Ojeifo is creating sustainable and innovative mental healthcare solutions in her country through her organisation, She Writes Woman. Hauwa told Flourish Africa that the initiative was birthed after she was diagnosed with bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) coupled with psychosis and suicidal idealisations.
She has been famously quoted for saying, “If I do not speak up, one more person will have to live in shame and fear of stigma.”
She Writes Woman, is based on the ethos that, those who have experienced mental illness and other mental health and related life issues are the single most powerful instruments of change. It thus aims to inspire dialogue to destigmatise and correct the misinformation surrounding mental health. “We are creating communities that draw strength, hope and healing from within and we are creating sustainable mental health solutions,” the organisation’s website details.
Some of these solutions include: the first privately held 24/7 mental health helpline that provides emergency intervention over the phone, a women-only monthly mental health support group reaching over 300 women across Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan and Kaduna called “A safe place”. There is also a program named “Hope visits” where hope bearers and hope visits marginalised people living with ill mental health in psychiatric, teaching and general hospitals.
In future Ojeifo hopes to work with schools in ensuring preventative mental health and ensuring a safer world for all, and to create mentally health workplaces where people thrive.
Although she is currently a certified Mind and Mental health coach, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Emotional Freedom Techniques therapy practitioner, she started off with a different educational background. Hauwa holds an MSc in Investment Banking & Islamic Finance from Henley Business School, University of Reading, England.
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Achievements and accolades
For her work in advocating against sexual violence and supporting mental health across groups, schools and organisations she has received international acclaim.
She is the only Nigerian female recipient of the Queen’s Young Leaders award 2018 by the Royal Commonwealth Society and the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust. The Queen’s Young Leaders Award recognises and celebrates exceptional people aged 18-29 from across the Commonwealth, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives.
I am so honoured to receive the #QueensYoungLeaders Award from Her Majesty The Queen for the work I do @shewriteswoman in giving mental illness a voice in #Nigeria
Do join us @shewriteswoman in making Nigeria a #SafePlace for #mentalhealth pic.twitter.com/1vFZVaBhK5
— Mental Health | Social Justice (@hauwa_ojeifo) June 29, 2018
She was also honoured as the Possibilities Woman 2017 by IWOW, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Advocacy nominee 2017, and the Leading Ladies Africa Top 100 Most Inspiring Nigerian Women 2018.
More recently, Hauwa was selected as an honouree of the AstraZeneca Young Health Programme scholarship to the One Young World summit in The Hague, Netherlands. Then went on to be selected as part of the inaugural cohort of the One Young World Young Leaders Against Sexual Violence (YLASV) working to end the prevalence of sexual violence in all of its forms worldwide. She also bagged the first MTV EMA Generation Change Award in Bilbao, Spain in November 2018.
Furthermore, she is a 2019 Obama Foundation Leader. The Africa program is made of a group of 200 leaders chosen from 45 different and aims to build a growing network of innovative and ethical change makers who will drive positive change in their communities, the continent, and the world.