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Women’s Health

Opinion: How the ‘guilt gap’ is hurting American women



Vanessa was one of 100 unemployed women and men I interviewed in Pennsylvania. Before the pandemic, I received funding from the National Science Foundation to conduct repeated in-depth life story interviews with people who had lost their jobs. The people I met came from both rural and urban areas, with different educational and financial backgrounds. Some had lost their jobs as waitresses or factory workers; others had been high-level executives. And while I was interviewing women and men, the only people who said things to me that reflected Vanessa’s feelings were women.

My research suggests that unemployed women are more likely than unemployed men to sacrifice their health before asking their families to give it up. I call this difference between women and men the “guilt gap” (women tend to feel guilty and make their health a top priority, while men don’t) – and while data is hard to come by, it seems likely that the Pandemic made it worse. Not only could this worrying pattern cost families more money if women’s health problems worsen, it could even threaten women’s lives.

During our conversations, I found that many women linked this feeling of guilt about losing their job with the need to sacrifice their health to protect their family members from the consequences of unemployment. Among them, the majority of the unemployed women I met stopped taking their medication, seeing their doctor, or taking care of themselves as they did before they lost their jobs. For example, some women saved money by borrowing inhalers from neighbors. A Registered Nurse, Brandi, stated, “I have asthma about my inhaler, I’ll be honest with you. A friend of mine let me use hers. If it gets that bad, I’ll give her a call. “A year later, when I was following up with Ruth, another woman I met, I learned she had been hospitalized and had huge medical bills after months of stomach ache Doctors in the emergency room were able to surgically remove what turned out to be kidney stones, but Ruth learned that if she had been treated earlier, she might have avoided both the surgery and the hospital.

In order to solve the problem of the “debt gap” we have to ask hard questions whether and how our mother ideals harm women. When self-sacrificing women feel obliged to care for their families, they can do so in ways that are harmful or even dangerous to themselves. As we move towards a post-pandemic recovery in America, we are rightly focusing on how economic devastation has fallen disproportionately on marginalized people. But as we work to address this, we must not lose sight of the deep inequalities that existed before the pandemic and were exacerbated by it.

As a society, we must be supportive advocates of women’s health care. In 2020, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, mothers were four times more likely than fathers to say that they were responsible for choosing a pediatrician, seeing a doctor and providing the children with medically recommended care. We need more fathers who play a bigger role in their family’s health so that mothers can focus on their own health for a change.

In one of the most painful cases I have come across, Jay, who had lost a job in manufacturing and thus his family’s health insurance, described taking out insurance for himself after he was laid off. As someone with arthritis, he said he wanted to continue his annual checkups. Since Jay’s wife wasn’t working, her insurance had come (and gone) through his job. Together they decided not to take out insurance, which meant that she had to go without several medications. He told me, “It’s just ridiculous how much (your inhaler) costs.”

Most of the examples in my study weren’t that blatant. In most cases, however, it was not just that families could not only care for their health, but that women often put their own health last, while the health needs of men were seldom that far out of focus. Despite tremendous societal changes, such as the rising participation of women in the labor force and rising education rates, mothers remain primarily responsible for a variety of family care tasks, including cooking, cleaning and caring for family members.

Life story interviews are common in my field of sociology as they focus on how people understand their lives at crucial moments like a period of unemployment. Although these results are based on a small group of people and we should be careful not to generalize them to all Americans, the power of the interviews resides not in a single story, but in the compelling patterns that the researcher recognizes and bases on the interviews on which interpreted their expertise. In my experience, the patterns discussed here provide evidence of widespread social experiences that require scrutiny and action.

To solve this problem, we have to ask hard questions whether and how our mother ideals harm women. When self-sacrificing women feel obliged to care for their families, they can do so in ways that are harmful or even dangerous to themselves.

The real reason employers can't hire enough workersSince the pandemic began, about a third of Americans have postponed necessary medical preventive measures, including annual health checkups, routine dental work, eye exams, and cancer screenings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Worryingly, a recent survey found that more women compared to men reported having missed such visits. As the pace of vaccinations increased this spring and summer, doctors’ offices have been flooded with patients eager to resume the care they had given up. But for millions of unemployed Americans, the lack of access to health care is not fixed by vaccinations. Gender differences in medical care were a challenge prior to the pandemic; In 2019, more women than men stated that they had not seen a doctor in the past year for cost reasons. Scientists and most mothers agree that too often motherhood requires mothers to put families above themselves. As a researcher who deals with work, family and gender, I see that all too often women put their health at the bottom or at the bottom of their list of priorities. The loss of a job often triggers the loss of health insurance, as over three quarters of full-time employees have health insurance through their employment. To make matters worse, in most countries unemployment insurance pays a small part of the regular salary (often between 30 and 50%). Many people I met have reported difficulties paying for things like food, electricity, telephone services, children’s needs, and even housing, let alone health care. Women have told us what they need. In February, a survey by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that affordable, high-quality health care continues to be the top priority of women’s policy – even before the economy. We need the Biden government to take women’s policy priorities seriously; this should include expanding health care provision for the unemployed to remove cost and access barriers to health care. If we don’t act, women’s health will continue to take the toll. The boldest step might be to encourage women to do whatever we are told to do with oxygen masks on airplanes in an emergency; Women need to make sure they secure their own health care before attending to the needs of others.

All opinions, results, and conclusions or recommendations in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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Women’s Health

In Response to NH Executive Council Vote to Defund Granite State Family Planning Organizations, NH Delegation Urges Biden Admin to Swiftly Award Supplemental Assistance Directly to Impacted Providers




(Manchester, NH) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) headed a letter today with U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra urged HHS to make additional grants directly to the New Hampshire family planning providers that were recently withdrawn by the New Hampshire Executive Council and are not receiving Title X program funding.

On Wednesday, the delegation slammed the Executive Board after it voted to terminate several contracts for family planning organizations, effectively cutting off critical services to women’s health care providers across New Hampshire, such as planned parenting.

Today the delegation wrote: “As a result of the actions of the Executive Board, several family planning providers are facing budget constraints that will affect the availability of health care for thousands of granite staters, mostly women, who rely on family planning providers for their vital health. “Including breast cancer screening, cervical cancer screening, birth control and other reproductive health services. Low-income women and rural women will be disproportionately affected by the reckless decision of the Executive Board. We are deeply concerned about the health care gap that will be inevitable without immediate federal support. “

They continued, “With the situation looming in New Hampshire, we ask HHS to review all available means to provide immediate support to affected family planning providers in our state. We appreciate HHS efforts to repeal the harmful Title X-Gag rule and restore federal funding for family planning providers in New Hampshire and across the country. However, the family planning providers in New Hampshire need immediate help. We therefore demand that the providers be provided with additional funds quickly and directly in order to close the funding gap they are confronted with. “

You can read the letter in full here.

Wednesday’s Executive Council vote is particularly egregious as it follows the Trump administration’s years of attacks on women’s reproductive health, particularly President Trump’s implementation of the Title X Gag Rule, which controls the majority of family planning providers in New Hampshire rules out federal grants. In June, Senator Shaheen sent a letter to Secretary of Health and Welfare Xavier Becerra urging him to support family planning providers in New Hampshire who will lose government funds under the New Hampshire Draft Budget. This support is urgently needed to help these vendors fill the funding gap until the Biden administration can complete its repeal of the Trump administration rule.

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Women’s Health

Taliban Seize Women’s Ministry Building for Use by Religious Police



KABUL, Afghanistan – The Taliban have converted the women’s ministry building into offices for the Religious Morality Police, which once fueled fears of their oppression of women and the brutal enforcement of Sharia law by the militant government two decades ago in Afghanistan.

The renovation of the building in Kabul, the country’s capital, indicated at least a symbolic slap in the face from a ministry that embodied the rise of women in Afghanistan after the Taliban was ousted in 2001.

A video posted by Reuters showed women employed by the ministry protesting in front of the building because the Taliban had denied them entry and told them to go home.

It remains unclear whether the Department of Women was abolished by the Taliban, who regained power after the collapse of the US-backed government last month. But when the Taliban announced their incumbent cabinet members for the new government earlier this month, there was no appointment to oversee women’s affairs.

And in another ominous sign of renewed gender discrimination among the Taliban, the Ministry of Education ordered male teachers back to work and said secondary school classes for boys would resume on Saturday. There was no talk of girls.

The Ministry of Women’s new resident, the Ministry of Inviting, Guiding, and Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice, appears to be just a slightly renamed name for the notorious Taliban standards of conduct enforcer who made the group a global pariah in the 1990s.

The Ministry’s police officers have been known to beat or flog women who ventured outside their homes without full body covering and male escorts. They banned girls from school after elementary school and banned women from looking for work. Unmarried couples risked death by stoning for adultery.

While the Taliban leaders have recognized that Afghanistan has evolved after two decades of American-led occupation, they have also left women fearful of what the future may bring. No women have been appointed to positions of authority under the new Taliban government, and steps have been taken to separate men and women in public spaces.

Earlier this week, Minister of Higher Education Abdul Baqi Haqqani said women could continue to study in universities and postgraduate courses, but only in gender-segregated classrooms in appropriate Islamic clothing.

The building that formerly housed the Ministry of Women is in a former liberal district of Kabul that is full of cafes and a popular Turkish-run shopping mall with clothing stores, a counterfeit Apple store, and restaurants ranging from fast food chains to high profile Restaurants littered -end steak house.

Now a white Taliban flag is waving over the armored gate of the building complex, adorned with a sign for the ministry, who is its new resident, while Taliban security forces stand guard.

Understanding the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan

Map 1 of 6

Who are the Taliban? The Taliban emerged in 1994 amid the unrest following the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989. They used brutal public punishments, including flogging, amputation and mass executions, to enforce their rules. Here is more about their genesis and track record as rulers.

Who are the Taliban leaders? These are the top leaders of the Taliban, men who for years have been on the run, in hiding, in prison and dodged American drones. Little is known about them or how they plan to govern, including whether they will be as tolerant as they say they are. A spokesman told the Times the group wanted to forget about their past, but there would be some restrictions.

The walls surrounding the site are still adorned with murals and signs depicting the work of the Ministry of Women, but some have had women’s faces vandalized, a type of vandalism that has occurred elsewhere in Afghanistan since the Taliban regained power is to be observed.

A sign that reads “Supporting women who are victims of violence is our human duty” shows a woman with a black eye. Another is from the United States Agency for International Development, which has been a major resource for Afghanistan, and read, “Keep your city green and clean.”

Even critics of the American military’s long stay in Afghanistan have recognized the progress made by Afghan women over the past two decades. Under the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, women’s health, literacy rates and employment all rose. Assistance and shelter were given to abused women. Women entered the legislature and other positions of power.

A revealing barometer of growth was shown in the changing composition of the workforce. A World Bank study found that women made up 22 percent of the workforce in 2019, compared to 15 percent in 2009. A survey conducted two years ago by the Asia Foundation also showed growing public support for women in the workplace, with 76 percent of Afghans support women’s right to work outside the home.

The news of the Taliban’s conversion of the Ministry of Women came when the United Nations Security Council reassigned the organization’s six-month mission to Afghanistan. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which was established in the aftermath of the US invasion in 2002, is the primary tool for monitoring Taliban’s behavior following the chaotic US military withdrawal last month.

Stéphane Dujarric, the UN spokesman in New York, said he knew nothing about the development of the Ministry of Women and could not comment on it. Nevertheless, there have been “worrying developments in recent times, but we are continuing our dialogue and our advocacy for women’s rights, for girls’ rights, especially in the field of work and education”.

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Women’s Health

Addressing the pandemic’s toll on women’s health in the workplace



Released: September 18, 2021

Alex Perry, CEO at Bupa UK Insurance

September 16, 2021

The global pandemic was a world changing event and it is inevitable that it has had, and will continue to have, an impact on almost every segment of society. While it continues to affect lives and livelihoods around the world, we can already see the resulting consequences affect gender equality. McKinsey estimates that women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s jobs; The burden of unpaid childcare during school closings and the care of relatives during the lockdown was disproportionately borne by women with the closure of schools, and unfortunately the rate of domestic violence is also increasing.[1]

The pandemic is adding to another area of ​​gender inequality – health. It has shed a harsh light on some of the persistent health inequalities, and research by Bupa in the 2021 Census of Workplace Wellbeing found that a significantly larger proportion of women than men think the pandemic is negatively affecting them Life has an impact on health and wellbeing – two-thirds of women (66%) versus 57% of men.

While it is inevitable that the scale of a global pandemic will affect almost everyone, its impact on women and their working lives is undeniable – our census showed that a third (32%) of women felt that their mental health was affecting their work , and many are struggling with the transition to working from home. A quarter (26%) have seen blurred lines between work and personal life with the World Health Organization (WHO)[2] This suggests that many women find themselves in an impossible situation of multiple caring responsibilities, with some returning to traditional household roles as well as their professional workload. While every woman’s situation is different, it is clear that COVID-19 continues to exacerbate existing inequalities for many. In addition, the long-term effects of the pandemic will have social and economic repercussions for women for many years to come.

[3]How can organizations react effectively and create conditions for optimal equality for women? In recent years, companies have recognized the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This is stronger today than ever as companies with more diversity are more likely to outperform less heterogeneous ones in terms of profitability. The pandemic is therefore providing a unique opportunity for companies to rethink how they can support women at all stages of life so they can realize their career potential, with no better starting point than women’s health. Employers have a responsibility to support their employees and create an inclusive culture where everyone can thrive and do their best mentally and physically.

There are still some taboos and information gaps surrounding women’s health. One of the few benefits of the pandemic is that we are prioritizing our health more than ever. Let’s take this golden opportunity to rethink how we can better support the health and wellbeing of women, starting in the workplace.


Effects of COVID-19 on Women and Gender Equality | McKinsey during-the-covid-19-pandemic-and-beyond

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