Parental burnout. Exhaustion. Anxiety. 

In this pandemic time, women’s health is suffering, and it is the ideal time to shine a light on the pressures and stereotypes within society that are underpinning this women’s health crisis. 

The Gender Code – that set of beliefs that tells us men are naturally providers, and women are naturally carers – means women are so busy setting up others for success, that their own health is not a priority. Women are stretched emotionally, mentally, financially – as they try to put the needs of everyone around them first, and to do more, with less. 

And the COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified this issue, with a global study by Deloitte finding that 23% of women are considering leaving the workforce due to the pandemic, 77% of women have had an increased workload due to the pandemic, and 66% said they bear the greatest responsibility for household tasks. 

This has combined to create a perfect storm for women’s health.

So, what’s the solution? 

The unwritten Gender Code means, women take on as much as 77% of unpaid labour, in-line with the belief that women should be the carers, and should be putting everyone else’s needs ahead of their own. 

To create real change, we need to break the Gender Code across society, our workplaces, communities and individuals, and rethink the beliefs we hold about men and women, and our roles in families and the workforce.

Until we address the root cause of the problem, real change and transformation will continue to struggle. It’s like putting plaster on a broken arm without resetting it, and expecting it to heal. We need to reset in order to heal properly. 

Tips for breaking the Gender Code: 

Get curious about how the Gender Code – stereotyping – is playing out in your life right now. In your family, workplace, community and in you. Often we’re so used to accepting the status quo, we forget to question it.

Think about the impact it’s having on you and your important people and if you want to make changes.

Decide what you value and want to stay the same, what you need to let go of and what new thoughts, practices and habits you need to start. 

5 wellbeing strategies for Women’s Health Week: 

  1. Be accepting of your situation and context. Knowing that acceptance doesn’t mean approval and things can and will change. Then you can redirect the energy you use fighting reality toward managing it with a clearer head and heart.
  2. Work out what is most important to you. Is it your family, work, community, a passion project, wellbeing? Or maybe it’s more about values – freedom, growth, connection. Put what’s most important at the centre of all you do and use it as a guide (like an internal compass) for decision making.
  3. Play to your strengths and do YOU your way. Think about how you operate and perform at your best. Embed practices, rituals and behaviours into your day in a way that’s sustainable for you rather than using the strategies and tips that work for others.
  4. Have the crucial conversations. The first and most important one is with yourself. What are you putting up with at your own expense? What is working well and can be leveraged? What isn’t working so well and needs changing or modifying? When you’re clear on this, you feel more empowered to have the crucial conversations with your important people.
  5. Do a support review. Think about all the people in your personal and professional network and how you contribute to setting them up for success and how good it makes you feel! Leverage your network, ask for support and help THEM feel good in the process.
Danielle Dobson