Women of SA

Women of SA

On 9 August 1956 more than 20 000 women of different backgrounds, creeds and cultures came together to march to the union buildings in Pretoria.

The women of South Africa took a stand and fought for their rights. So on this day, we celebrate all the womankind in South Africa. The notion that a ‘woman’s place is in the kitchen’ had to be broken down, and the unjust laws had to be abolished.

Now 65 years later, women in South Africa are still facing obstacles in their daily lives. As we all know, gender-based violence against women in this country is significantly higher than those of other countries. In a study conducted by Cape town university, they’ve found that at least three women are killed every day by the hands of their partners and roughly 220 000 women apply for protection orders per year.

In a constant state of abuse or the fear thereof, women develop mental health conditions. In South Africa, mental health is very much a neglected topic. People tend to shy away from the conversation when it is brought up, and it is swept under the carpet due to certain stigmas of mental health in general.

Mental health can be defined as our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It ultimately affects how we think, feel and relate to everyday situations and stresses. Studies across the world have shown over and over again that women have significantly higher rates of anxiety and depression and are twice as likely to suffer from major depressive disorders.

So in this month’s blog article, we have decided to highlight the impact that mental health has on women in South Africa and provide you with some insight on how to improve your mental health. However, we urge all our readers to reach out to Zwavelstream Clinic if you’re not feeling yourself.

With the national lockdown in place, South Africans are starting to see the toll which it has taken, especially on women. When President Cyril Ramaphosa asked citizens to self-isolate for 21 days, the concerns that followed regarded the notion that women, primarily, were thrown into the deep end. Having to take care of work, the household and taking over the roles of educators, which has led to numerous women feeling depressed, overwhelmed and anxious. A “lockdown” survey was conducted by the University of Johannesburg’s centre for social change and the division of the human science research council. The survey suggested that 33% of South African adults were depressed and 47% felt fearful. It was also noted that 29% of adults felt lonely.

Those who have been living in abusive households before lockdown could no longer escape their abusers and were forced to live with them in self-isolation. The impact that this has had on women in the country is immeasurable thus leaving many with a fragile mental health condition.

By no surprise, South Africa is ranked as one of the most dangerous places if you’re a woman, and our society is far too familiar with gender-based violence against women and children. More than 120 000 women called the national abuse hotline in just the first three weeks. All of which has had a tremendous impact on our women and in turn, our society.

There is ample evidence to suggest that there’s a national pattern of negative emotional experiences. In some aspects, women are psychologically affected differently during the lockdown. Surveys suggest that women are more depressed and more apprehensive. This can be contributed to the fact that women have to somehow manage working from home, all the extra child-care and household tasks that never end.

Mental health issues existed long before the outbreak of corona, but the global pandemic has exacerbated these issues due to a lack of mental health care and support. The prevailing stigma of mental health has also left many women feeling helpless and prevents them from seeking treatment. Anyone struggling with Covid-19 or is at a higher risk of contracting the virus will have some sort of mental impact.