Unootha Fights to Raise Awareness for Women’s Mental Health
In a region where women often have no choice but to conform to societal expectations, women in the Middle East often find themselves struggling to mentally stay afloat. A "Good Woman" should be clean (all natural body hair must go), quiet (opinionless and submissive to the wishes of others), decently dressed at all times (modestly covered up), and obedient to her elders (silent in the face of abuse) among many other things.
While conversations about mental illness remain hushed in the Middle East, new generations fight to break the silence. Projects ranging from art exhibitions, poetry, instagram pages and apps are now at the forefront of innovations, capturing eyes and funding from various places. This generational shift promises to not only provide better mental health resources, but to also shift the roles of women in the Middle East to have control over their lives.
Unootha, an independent e-magazine dedicated to the creative works of Middle Eastern and North African women and publishing their stories, fights to raise awareness in the Middle East about women's mental health through their second issue: Mental Health. With a name that roughly translates to Femininity, the magazine houses the many works of MENA women, ranging from poetry, fiction, art and a section devoted to personal essays/nonfiction called Life.
In the issue, Unootha states that it hopes to present a safe and open space for honest and brutal conversation in a region where mental illnesses are still deeply stigmatized. It highlights multiple poems about the unrealistic and claustrophobic expectations pushed on Middle Easterm women and breaking free of their chains. It also contains multiple nonfiction pieces underscoring the effects of ignoring mental illness in the Arab world, reassessing identity, and recovering from mental illnesses and societal expectations. In addition, Unootha features multiple art pieces from Arab women in an effort to raise awareness about how the clash of culture, religion, and mental health affects Middle Eastern women.