If we check the dictionary, the answer to this question is: a woman who is admired for having done something very brave or having achieved something great. A woman noted for special achievement in a particular field. Then, we automatically think about very famous women, as for instance Marie Curie, Cleopatra or Joan of Arc. Or maybe we can think about fictional characters, like Catwoman or Wonder Woman, with their unreal life full of fantasy. But, we never think that we can be surrounded by heroines or even that we could be one of them although… WE ARE!
Mental ill health among women is on the rise. One in five women (19%) experience a common mental disorder (such as anxiety or depression), compared with one in eight (12%) men. There is clear evidence indicating that women’s mental health is linked to their experiences of violence and abuse (e.g.: 53% of women who have mental health problems have experienced abuse. Source: https://weareagenda.org/womens-mental-health-key-facts). Moreover, women with mental health challenges suffer a double discrimination: for having a mental illness and for being a woman, so they have to fight, not only against the illness, but also against the social stigma attached to it. Living in a rural or isolated area only add an extra handicap to these women.
Do not you think than somebody involved in such a fight should be called an HEROINE? Every day, they face a silent fight: they have to fight against the symptoms of the illness, against the society, which imposes a prototype of a woman far from their reality, they have to fight for their families (children, parents, etc.) and for their own rights. This is not the kind of fight that you see on a movie or read on a book, but it is a really hard fight without any rest.
Professionals of the mental health field know these women very well, they know about their daily fight, about their courage, their resilience and their solidarity. But these women do not recognize themselves as something extraordinary, they are not aware about their great value for the whole society. They are a great example of strength, of the value of the big little things in life. This project intends to be a tribute to all these women.
One of the latest writing exercises made in the HEROINES project was a reflection about the course, about its personal impact. In most of the cases, they recognized the positive empowerment process they have experienced during the last months. We collected some of these success stories in the publication “The New HEROINES catalogue” (to be published soon in this website), as we firmly believe that they should be recognized as the new heroines of this XXI century, an example for other people and a role model to follow.