Specific initiatives

Co-ordinated efforts to improve state gender policies, to interdict violence toward women, and to empower women

The years of education women receive is the single most important determinant of their own health, the health of their children, and the health of their families. (2425) Policies that deny women full citizenship must be fought not only because they violate human rights, but also because they destroy health. Women must take leadership roles in governments, international agencies, and non-governmental organizations. Laws to ensure the protection of women against domestic violence—laws accompanied by effective enforcement—are foundation efforts for mental health.

Broad initiatives to control the causes and consequences of violence

Only far-reaching changes in international and national politics will reduce the frequency of armed conflicts. Peace and security initiatives must target violence as the major threat to social well being. Mental health concerns need to be more widely understood in peace and security programmes. The analysis of mental health issues, from the effect of racism on identity to the vicious cycles of revenge, is essential in preventing ethnic conflict.

*This chapter first appeared in Comprehensive Psychiatry, 38, 69-73, and is reproduced by permission of the publishers. Chapter References

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