Speaking about the unspoken this Women’s Month

For Women’s Month we celebrate amazing women that are changing the world in positive ways. However, we also need to give thought to the struggles faced by many women in both the home and work life.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence. WHO has found that being victims of physical violence can lead to both short-term as well as long-term health concerns for women. Not only can violence against women lead to injuries but it can have fatal results like homicide or suicide.

Physical and sexual violence can lead to unintended pregnancies, induced abortions, miscarriage, stillbirth, gynaecological problems and sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV.

Women who have been victims of violence are at high risk of becoming depressed and developing post-traumatic stress disorder. WHO found that these women had generally poor health but also frequently experienced illnesses like headaches, back pain, abdominal pain, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders and limited mobility.

Women can also experience forms of abuse, like bullying, in the workplace. According to  Psychology Today, 34 % of women have reported falling victim to workplace bullying. Women who have experienced bullying in the workplace are at great risk of developing anxiety and depression.

This women’s month, Workforce Healthcare, a specialist health and wellness company whose expertise lie in bringing primary and occupational healthcare directly to the workplace, are trying to address the health problems caused by women abuse by providing support for women in the workplace.

Workforce Healthcare analysed their call centre trends and found that family relationship problems continue to be one of the biggest issues faced by women in the workplace. In July 2016, 21% of all calls placed to the Workforce Healthcare call centre were about family relationship problems.

These problems included domestic violence, emotional and physical abuse, marital problems, divorce, reproductive health as well as children’s behavioural problems.

Workforce Healthcare found that many of the women who faced these problems were often reluctant to seek therapy, mainly because of the myths and misconceptions regarding therapy. Workforce Healthcare runs an Employee Assistance Programme in order to help workers deal with their various concerns, however they have identified that the first step in addressing issues as sensitive as women abuse, is to start with simply talking to female employees about topics that have historically not been talked about.

Dr Richard Malkin, Managing Director of Workforce Healthcare, says that according to a study released by Statistics South Africa in 2015, most households are run by single mothers.

Yet the numbers revealed that 31% of mothers were recorded as being married, meaning that the husband and father of the household was possibly absent from the household and their children’s lives. Furthermore, over 1.1 million births were registered in South Africa in 2015 but 64% of those had no information on the fathers.

“South Africa will never change its attitude to women if we continue to have single parent families, the cycle of abuse will just continue,” Malkin says.

This month, Workforce Healthcare offered clients the option of a ‘Ladies Talk’ Workshop. The workshop aims to help female employees understand the nature of various family relationship problems, equip employees with emotional and legal strategies in dealing with divorce and separation, empower employees with a better understanding of their rights, help employees understand their rights with regards to domestic violence and to explain the function of their 24-hour call centre and how to access it.

By offering discussion around these topics which are often not talked about Workforce Healthcare is hoping to empower female employees, as well as help to improve their morale and job performance.