Economically, women bore the brunt of COVID-19. They lost the highest percentage of jobs and a collective $800 billion in income. Childcare centers closed, office workers went remote, schools went online, and healthcare—an industry where women make up the majority of caretaker positions—became one of the most dangerous professions because of the raging pandemic.
Retail, food service, and tourism also took a hit; more industries where women are overrepresented in the global economy. Regardless of job sector, traditional ideas of the nuclear family were reinforced in homes across the United States where women were responsible for childcare and schooling, leading women to leave the job market at four times the rate of men.
As industries recover, it is unclear how women will re-enter the workforce. Many of the previously mentioned economic and social issues existed before, but the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated them to a greater degree. Female nurses, for example, are twice as likely to die by suicide than other women.
For National Women’s Equality Day, we should focus on women, their needs, and what we can do to support them.
Supporting women’s mental health
There are many things women can do for themselves to alleviate stress and anxiety. Eating nutritious foods, engaging in hobbies, and exercising are all examples of intentional, sustainable self-care habits to pick up. The pandemic made a mess of everyone’s habits and routine, but it is important to remember that you can renew your commitment to whatever self-care habit makes you feel happier and healthier.
Others can support these efforts by helping women make time in their busy schedules. Because women are often relied upon to be a caregiver or run the household, they have less time to engage in self-care activities. Make an extra effort to give women space to be themselves without additional expectations.
If you or a loved one are suffering, there’s no shame in seeking additional support for mental health issues. Valley Oaks Health offers individual counseling and support groups to support everyone who needs it.