International Women’s Day: Choose to challenge

As if facing a barrage of inequalities, and discrimination in our relationships, communities and workplaces isn’t enough, inequalities facing women also extend to our health; and as it goes with intersectionality, we see varying degrees of it based on race, gender, class, disability and sexual orientation and so on.

In the last decade, over 8,000 women in the UK have died from heart disease that was misdiagnosed or mistreated due to gender bias.

Survivors of gender-based violence are more likely to have poor physical and mental health.  

Less is said to be known about many female-specific conditions and how to treat them. (Hello, where is the research on fibromyalgia which affects mainly women?) Research shows that women with fibromyalgia are more likely to be diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, while men are more likely to be diagnosed with medical conditions. (Uhh, hello??!)

What of all those women who were ignored when they reported problems with pelvic mesh repairs. My friend was one of these women, who years later is still dealing with the painful implications of a medical device which has caused internal damage to thousands of women.

Women as more likely than men to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders and 75percent of those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder are women.

I can go on and on about this gender health gap but it’s only one part of the problem.

Every year for International Women’s Day I say I will write something then I don’t. The reason? I feel overwhelmed. There is so much I want to say and need to get out but I am overwhelmed by the enormity of the things we carry.

The pandemic is no different.

More women than men have been furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme, partly because women were more likely to be working in a sector that has been shut down by the pandemic. Mothers and women from minority ethnic groups have been particularly affected by the pandemic, according to research posted by the UK Parliament.

It’s high time that we women look after ourselves, support each other more and be our sisters’ keeper. Share on X

Should we be surprised if research were to tell us that women are facing particularly tough times during the pandemic. Possibly bearing the brunt of it?Maybe even more likely to become unwell in body and mind. We know that there’s been an increase in gender-based violence during lockdown too. 

A friend of mine was recently threatened in a public place with sexual violence from a total stranger, and no one, not even the nearby police came to her aid. She was shaken up and it really took a toll on her mental wellbeing.

When I told someone that women experience this sort of stuff daily, they were skeptical. I was livid.  I too have been ignored and downplayed previously when I spoke up against sexual violence against me, with excuses made for my perpetrators. Even though I speak quite openly on these things I realise now that we have to make our voices heard and speak louder, shout if we must; challenge these unhelpful notions that blame, stereotype and silence the women affected by sexual violence.

If I’m not my sister’s keeper, who will be? Share on X

It’s high time that we women look after ourselves, support each other more and be our sisters’ keeper.

I hear the UK government is launching a programme to better understand women’s experiences of the health system to coincide with International Women’s Day. That’s good. But they need to do more. Still, let us not hold our breaths. We cannot continue to sit and wait for change to happen while we suffer endlessly because of these inequalities. How to make a start? Simple. Start by supporting each other. Let us listen to each other and advocate for eachother. Choose to challenge the systems that work against us. If I’m not my sister’s keeper, who will be?

Gentle hugs x

2 Replies to “International Women’s Day: Choose to challenge”

  1. I agree. But how can we connect? How can we lift each other up? 1. I find female groups on social media to be good places to connect and share issues to get encouragement and ideas for solutions. 2. Keep writing/speaking up as you have here. 3. Support women in key positions.

    1. Absolutely Katie! I agree with you. I support our sisters when I meet them at work, in the community and online on social media 🙏🏽💜

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