In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re looking at realistic, tangible ways that we can all advocate for the well-being of women.
This year, we’re recognizing the endless amounts of emotional and physical contributions made by women throughout the ongoing pandemic, along with the recognition of the healing and hope they’ve shown society throughout history.
With that being said, just because women have taken on so much of the emotional labor, doesn’t mean they should have to (ahem, we are exhausted). So, let’s dive into ways we can help promote equality and give women a much needed break from taking it all on.
The pandemic and women’s mental health
It’s no surprise that all of the sacrificing, caregiving, and juggling that women have done over the past two plus years has affected their mental health. From caregiving for children after school and daycare closures to navigating gender inequities in the workplace, studies show that many women have been pushed to their limits. Add the increased risk of domestic violence and the effects of systematic racism into the mix, and you can better understand why women are more vulnerable to mental health struggles.
Ways we can all advocate for women
Share responsibilities at home. Studies show that women continue to take on a majority of the unpaid household and caregiving work. From cooking and cleaning, to taking care of children, women have historically led the charge on this undervalued form of labor. One major step we can all take is making sure that everyone in our households is doing their part to share the load of responsibilities. Here are some things to try:
- Have an honest conversation with others in your home about each person’s expectations, needs, and definition of fairness.
- Take an inventory of household responsibilities and find ways to create a more equal division of labor.
- Take on more of the emotional labor of planning and organizing family needs, activities, and special occasions.
- Support your partner’s career, giving them the time and space they need to feel successful.
- Practice flexibility and understanding. If you notice that someone in your home is overwhelmed, offer to pitch in.
Talk about gender equity with your children. It’s our responsibility to teach our children to advocate for the rights of those who have historically been discriminated against. Here are a few of the ways you can start educating your kiddos:
- Have honest conversations with your children about things like gender stereotypes, wage gaps, the fight for women’s rights, and body autonomy.
- Model equality for your children by doing your fair share of domestic work, and let them know that everyone’s contributions are important and meaningful.
- Read books together about gender equality.
Empower women in the workplace. COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect on women in the workforce. It’s up to us all to create work environments that treat women equally, offer a sufficient amount of paid family leave time, along with providing equal wages. Ready to give it a go? Here are some starting points:
- Advocate for placing women in leadership roles, especially members of the BIPOC community, at your workplace.
- Make space for and elevate women’s ideas and points of view in a professional environment. Most all of us have witnessed a man in a position of power talking down to or over a female subordinate — yeah, don’t tolerate that.
- Go to your HR department and advocate for enhanced paid family leave plans and equal page wages for employees.
- If you notice gender discrimination in your workplace, speak up.
Support the women in your life. Impactful change happens when we all begin to shift the ways we think and move throughout the world. There are several things we can all do to better show up for the women around us:
- Check in with the women around you and ask if they could use more support.
- Listen attentively to their concerns and challenges with compassion, while validating their experience.
- Ask if you can offer solutions. If so, look for small changes you can make to create a more equitable environment for everyone. For example, if your partner tells you that she is burned out or overwhelmed at home, try identifying responsibilities — like cooking dinner or doing homework with the kids — that you can take off of her plate.
- Read books about the female experience to further educate yourself.
- When you hear a friend, family member, or colleague make a disparaging or discriminatory comment, say something. Standing up for women requires courage to challenge problematic thinking and behavior. Writing something off as “locker room talk” or saying “boys will be boys” is simply not okay.
Yes, women have the phenomenal ability to take so much on, from unpaid household labor to fighting for equal pay in the workplace, but that doesn’t mean they should have to carry this burden alone. All women deserve support, recognition, and allies who are advocating for their human rights. As we recognize Women’s History Month, let’s continue to look at and overall the biases that are inherent in our systems and lift up the women around us.
By Katie Nave, Copywriter at Sanvello
Katie is a writer and mental health advocate living in Brooklyn, New York. Her essays have been featured in publications including Newsweek, Elle, Glamour, Business Insider, and Motherly. She has served as a producer for the National Women’s March and worked with organizations like Girls Inc. She is currently the Copywriter at Sanvello and you can follow her on Instagram: @kathryn.e.nave.