As women continue to face economic disparities and barriers to full participation in the workforce, it’s important to recognize the interconnectedness between economic inclusion and mental health. The stress and anxiety resulting from financial instability, unequal pay, and limited career advancement opportunities can take a significant toll on women’s mental well-being. Moreover, the unequal distribution of unpaid care work adds another layer of strain, further impacting women’s mental health.

While efforts to promote economic inclusion, such as expanding childcare provisions and advocating for changes in employment laws, are steps in the right direction, they also have implications for women’s mental health. Access to affordable childcare, for instance, not only enables women to participate more fully in the workforce but also alleviates the mental burden of balancing work and caregiving responsibilities. Similarly, employment law reforms that address workplace discrimination and harassment can contribute to a healthier work environment for women, reducing stress and improving overall mental well-being.

The Economic Divide:
In most parts of the world, women encounter systemic barriers that limit their access to economic opportunities. Gender pay gaps, lack of representation in leadership positions, and discriminatory practices persist in various sectors, perpetuating inequality and hindering women’s financial empowerment. As a result, women often find themselves trapped in low-paying jobs with limited prospects for advancement, exacerbating economic disparities and perpetuating cycles of poverty.

According to a 2017 report on the mental health of women and girls:

  • Women are now three times more likely to experience mental health issues than men.
  • Rates of self-harm among young women have tripled since 1993
  • Women are more than three times as likely to experience eating disorders than men
  • Young women are three times more likely than young men to experience post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Young women are more likely to experience anxiety-related conditions than any other group.

Mental health problems affect both men and women, but not in equal measure.

Impact on Women’s Well-being:
The consequences of economic exclusion extend far beyond financial hardship, profoundly affecting women’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Studies consistently show that women who experience economic insecurity are more susceptible to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress. The constant struggle to make ends meet, coupled with limited resources and opportunities, can erode self-esteem, create chronic stress, and diminish the overall quality of life for women and their families.

Challenges Faced by Marginalised Women:
It’s essential to recognise that the impact of economic exclusion is disproportionately felt by marginalised groups of women, including women of colour, immigrants, LGBTQ+, and women with disabilities. When a woman’s different identities intersect, it can create additional barriers to financial inclusion, leading to greater inequalities between privileged and marginalised women. To support all women’s economic needs, we must address and eliminate discrimination that occurs at the intersections of different social identities.

Striving for Economic Inclusion:
On this International Women’s Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to advancing economic inclusion for all women. Here are key strategies we believe at The Wolfpack Project and suggest everyone should consider:

1. Promoting Equal Pay and Opportunities: Advocate for policies and practices that ensure equal pay for equal work and create pathways for women to access higher-paying jobs and leadership positions.

2. Investing in Education and Training: Expand access to quality education and vocational training programs that equip women with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in diverse industries and sectors.

3. Supporting Women Entrepreneurs: Provide targeted support and resources for women entrepreneurs, including access to capital, mentorship, and networking opportunities, to foster the growth of female-led businesses and startups.

4. Strengthening Social Safety Nets: Implement policies that provide robust social support systems, including affordable childcare, paid family leave, and healthcare benefits, to alleviate financial strain and promote economic security for women and their families.

5. Amplifying Marginalised Voices: Ensure that economic inclusion efforts are inclusive and equitable by centring the voices and experiences of marginalised women and addressing the unique barriers they face in accessing economic opportunities.

Our guide includes five tips for women to prioritize their mental health and well-being. These tips are all about practising self‑compassion. We believe that these tips can help women feel more empowered, resilient, and in control of their mental health.