August 1st 2022

Self-care for Women Leaders: Exploring Personal and Collective Experiences


Sharing senses and experiences around self-care and its importance within psychosocial support practices for women working for peacebuilding.

Twinning self-care

The Women Advocate Peace (WAP) programme in Colombia has prioritised self-care as a need and core strategy within the process of peacebuilding from a gender perspective.

Whilst implementing our action plan on mental health within the programme, the challenges to prioritise self-care in the practice for women became visible, particularly for women leaders and human rights defenders.

HealthNet TPO, together with the WAP consortium partners, held a full event on self- and collective- care which took place in Bogotá, on the 24th - 26th July 2022.

The event allowed women leaders from the various territories in Colombia and members of the consortium to share their experiences and knowledge of self-care, transiting continuously from the individual and collective perspective, and it’s encounter with psychosocial support practices.

Women leaders from across the territories in Colombia take part in the event activities on self-care.


"For me, self-care is about doing, so it is also about having the tools to make it happen.” 

Alexandra, Ruta Pacifica

Each woman and organisation explored their needs, abilities and resources, enriching the discussion and tools shared around this topic. One highlight was the opportunity to listen and learn from the Indigenous perspectives of women leaders from Nasa and Kämentsá communities, who understand self-care and psychosocial support from very different cosmogonies and socio-political realities than the hegemonic mestizo ones. It highlighted a need to embrace a transcultural approach and to reflect and reassess the use of concepts (such as mental health, self-care, psychological support) or general methodologies when working with communities, without a context or an intersectional approach.

HealthNet TPO staff led the day's activities with the WAP consortium partners


"Psychosocial support processes are important to ensure that self-care is evident and visible as a crucial dimension of peacebuilding, which is why it is strongly important to work at the individual and organisational level on self-care and collective care practices. To be coherent between discourse and practice, especially in our daily life, in organisations and at work".

Margarita Bernal, ICCO

The event reasserted the need to prioritise, without romanticising, the practice of self-care for women leaders. It showed the importance to reinforce shared spaces with diverse women (in terms of age, cultural backgrounds, roles and so forth), to draw attention to shared matters and strengths, to bring light to their own paths, to keep dismantling patriarchal and violent practices and keep nourishing the collective and individual processes. In general, hope, gratefulness, bodily awareness, and the richness of diversity were shared at the closing ritual as a sample of the eminent need and interest to keep co-creating, spreading, and working towards self-care as a political statement and core strategy for women working for peacebuilding in Colombia.

The self-care event was attended by 26 women, including programme coordinators of the Consortium's partner organisations LIMPAL, CODACOP, ICCO and Ruta Pacifica, and social leaders from the territory, representatives of Indigenous, Afro-Colombian and mestizo communities.


"The relationship between self-care and psychosocial support is one of doing and feeling; action and emotions are required in the process. It is necessary to give sustainability and coherence to the processes".

Adriana, Tejido Mujer – CODACOP

Women advocate peace

The Women Advocate Peace programme operates under the Dutch National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security, to reinforce the positive contribution of women and youth to sustainable peace processes. Through mental health and psychosocial support, we enable the restoration and development of healthy relationships and allow women affected by the conflict to realise their full potential and participate in process for peace.

Find out more about the WAP programme