On International Women’s Day, My Mind News investigates why this day is so important, reveals the facts and figures about women’s mental health, and what we all need to know about it.
International Women’s Day 2023
International Women’s Day (IWD) was first officially recognized in 1977 by the United Nations (UN) despite there being history in various countries to mark the rights of women decades earlier.
IWD is now celebrated in many countries where women are recognized for their achievements across all parts of society, including women’s rights. Now formally in its 46th year, the UN theme for this year is ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.’
Increased use of technology
Increasingly our lives are intertwined with technology. Yet, according to the UN, 37% of women do not use the internet. This equates to 259 million women not having access to the internet, despite accounting for half the world’s population.
This year’s theme, DigitALL, aims to acknowledge and celebrate girls and women “who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education.”
The observance will explore the impact of the digital gender gap on widening economic and social inequalities, and it will also spotlight the importance of protecting the rights of women and girls in digital spaces and addressing online and ICT-facilitated gender-based violence.
So what is ‘DigitALL’ about?
As stated, this year’s theme is DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality. According to the UN, which is championing IWD 2023, bringing women and other marginalized groups into technology results in more creative solutions and has greater potential for innovations that meet women’s needs and promote gender equality.
Women’s lack of inclusion in the technological age comes with massive costs. As reported by the UN Women’s Gender Snapshot 2022 report, women’s exclusion from the digital world has shaved $1 trillion from the gross domestic product of low and middle-income countries (LMICs) in the last decade – a loss that will grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025 without action.
Reversing this trend will require tackling the problem of online violence, which a study of 51 countries revealed 38% of women had personally experienced.
The UN believes that a gender-responsive approach to innovation, technology, and digital education can increase the awareness of women and girls regarding their rights and civic engagement. Advancements in digital technology offer immense opportunities to address development and humanitarian challenges and to achieve the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Unfortunately, however, the opportunities of the digital revolution also present a risk of perpetuating existing patterns of gender inequality. Growing inequalities are becoming increasingly evident in the context of digital skills and access to technologies, with women being left behind as the result of this digital gender divide.
The need for inclusive and transformative technology and digital education is therefore crucial for a sustainable future.
The UN will host an IWD Special Event
The United Nations Observance of International Women’s Day will be marked by a high-level event to be held today, Wednesday, March 8th, 2023. The event will bring together technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and gender equality activists to provide an opportunity to highlight the role of all stakeholders in improving access to digital tools and be followed by a high-level panel discussion and musical performances.
Facts and figures on women’s mental health
According to World Health Organization (WHO), in its ‘World mental health report: Transforming mental health for all,’ women experience more mental health issues than men due to being more financially disadvantaged, carrying and experiencing stress at home due to childcare responsibilities, and are more likely to experience domestic violence.
Here are the specific WHO statistics:
- More women (13.5% or 508 million) than men (12.5% or 462 million) live with a mental disorder.
- Mental disorders are common among pregnant women and women who have just given birth, often with severe impacts on both mothers and babies.
- Pregnant women with untreated depression or anxiety are more likely to have birth complications or die during pregnancy and to have a low-birthweight baby.
- Worldwide, more than 10% of pregnant women and women who have just given birth experience depression. This figure is higher in LMICs.
- Women living with a severe mental disorder are much more likely to have experienced domestic and sexual violence during their life than other women.
- Around 14.2% of women aged 70 years and over lived with a mental disorder in 2019, mainly depressive and anxiety disorders.
- Globally, women are more likely to attempt suicide than men. And yet twice as many men die by suicide.
- Violence against women and girls intensified in the first year of the pandemic, with 45% of women reporting they had experienced some form of violence, either directly or indirectly.
Studies also show women are more affected in terms of their mental health throughout their lives than men (68% versus 32%). They were, and continue to be, more likely to be financially disadvantaged due to lower salaries, fewer savings, and less secure employment than their male counterparts.
Depressive and anxiety disorders are about 50% more common among women than men throughout the life course, while men are more likely to have a substance use disorder.
Women who have experienced intimate partner violence or sexual violence are particularly vulnerable to developing a mental health condition, with significant associations found between victimization and depression, anxiety, stress conditions including PTSD, and suicidal ideation.
While the annually-held International Women’s Day marks the day on which we all recognize and celebrate the many remarkable achievements and contributions made by women to our society, it also offers a spotlight to shine on inequities and sexual prejudices.
It also reminds us that there are millions of women worldwide that are disadvantaged due to a multitude of reasons, including sex, race, religious or socioeconomic background.
While these might be issues that are raised time after time, year after year, the very existence of IWD means that such issues are highlighted, putting pressure on those in power (on any level) to take action in order to ensure that such inequities in our society are eradicated.
All of us at My Mind News wish our readers, followers, and subscribers a joyful and peaceful International Women’s Day 2023.