By: Carol Briggs, Clinical Intern
On August 26th we commemorate the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment. The 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote, however, Black women, some of the first suffragists, faced continued barriers to voting for decades after.
While we commemorate women’s suffrage as one victory in the fight for gender equality, it’s important to acknowledge how far we’ve yet to go.
Oppression and discrimination impact mental health and physical wellbeing. As women we are often less valued for our work and contributions.
- Payscale.com reports that in 2020, women make $0.81 for every dollar a man makes. This gap is even larger for certain occupations and for women of color. Women continue to be underrepresented in certain career fields.
- One in four women in the U.S. experience intimate partner violence (Huecker & Smock, 2020). Trans women experience a high rate of physical and sexual violence with the highest rates occurring in trans women of color (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 2013).
- Data from the U.S. Census Bureau reports that, in 2018, 38.1 million people live at or below the poverty line. 56% were women.
Sociocultural challenges faced by women can increase the risk for mental and physical concerns. The pressure to be perfect, look a certain way, and do it ALL come from messages we receive in the media and society.
- Media and societal expectations of women contribute to an array of mental health issues including eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and low self-esteem. They can also influence our ideas around sex, gender roles, and motherhood.
- Women who wish to give birth can be faced with infertility and postpartum depression. Working mothers must tackle balancing career with family and can often feel guilt.
- Pressures placed on women can lead to anxiety and depression.
Everyone needs support. As women we’ve been socialized to believe we must be that support for everyone all the time. What might happen if we demand to be heard and allow ourselves to receive support too? How might we feel about ourselves when we challenge the unrealistic expectations put on us?
Look at how we’ve changed the world with our power to vote! What else can we change?