All around us, we see the challenges women face – how they hardly thrive or reach their full potential because they are schemed out of things in the vehicle of cultural norms, by virtue of their gender.
There is a possibility that you my reader have innocently witnessed or even perpetuated discrimination against the woman unintentionally because of what you grew up to know as normal.
This discrimination has largely been rooted in the man’s world that has perpetuated bias and gender-based stereotypes against women, resulting in limited access to resources, lower pay, lack of representation in positions of power, and discrimination in various fields.
Women as much as men have a lot to contribute to society, but they are held back by these challenges, and where it gets worst is they are on their own.
This article is going to be straightforward, delving into the challenges women face bordering on their gender and how they have maneuvered the canyons, defying the cultural norms.
Challenges Women Face
Despite progress over the years, women are still facing multiple forms of discrimination, such as the gender pay gap, underrepresentation in leadership roles, gender-based violence, and cultural and social expectations about their roles and behaviors.
These challenges significantly impact women’s social, emotional, and psychological well-being, limiting their opportunities to thrive and achieve their full potential.
If you are a woman, you can relate to this, and if you are a man, your sister, mother or wife must have been one time or another other a victim of gender discrimination.
Most times, these discriminations happen as cultural norms or the people’s way of life which were entrenched by the forefathers.
In recent times, these norms have been questioned and challenged by both women and people who do not see justification in the challenges women face.
Below is the list of the challenges women face in no particular order:
1. Body-Shaming / Body Image and Societal Expectations to Conform to Unrealistic Beauty Standards
The pressure to conform to unattainable beauty standards is one of the predicaments of women and it’s something they face from a young age.
Body shaming includes negative judgments or comments about someone’s physical appearance, often based on unrealistic cultural beauty standards.
From media and advertising to social norms, you see how women are often made to feel that their worth is tied to their appearance, especially the portrayal of skinny women as the standard for women.
I had this conversation with a friend way back in college, and we all agreed that fleshy women were more pleasing to hug, as their hugs momentarily vanish any stress you were feeling.
And we wondered why the media is fixated on promoting skinny women as the way women should look.
What brought about that conversation was stories of women who starved or engaged in unhealthy practices just so they can lose weight and feel acceptable.
This body shaming can lead to body image issues and self-esteem problems that affect women throughout their lives.
Women are also expected to fit into traditional gender roles, which can limit their choices and opportunities.
Here are many forms of body shaming that can manifest against women:
- It can occur in many forms, including direct criticism or teasing, media messages, and social interactions.
- Body shaming can affect women in various ways, including their self-esteem, body image, mental health, and physical health.
- It often leads to feelings of shame and insecurity in women, which can result in a negative body image that affects their social relationships, daily activities, and work performance.
- Body shaming can also lead to mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders, as well as physical health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
- Body shaming can perpetuate discrimination against women of different races, sizes, and abilities, leading to social marginalization and inequality.
2. Gender Inequality and Discrimination in the Workplace
Gender inequality and discrimination in the workplace have long been recognized as significant challenges women face.
Women have constantly faced discrimination when it comes to work opportunities, promotions, and pay.
One of the biggest issues relating to gender inequality in the workplace is the gender pay gap.
Women are often paid less than men for doing the same job, and this discrepancy even exists in industries where women make up the majority of workers.
This discrimination in pay can contribute to a cycle of inequality, as it makes it difficult for women to accumulate wealth and retire with adequate social security.
Another issue for women in the workplace is sexual harassment. Women are often subjected to sexual harassment on the job, which creates a toxic work environment and makes it difficult for them to feel safe in their place of work.
Women who report harassment may also face retaliation from their peers or employers, which further adds to the psychological and emotional toll of being a victim of such behavior.
Despite considerable progress made over the years, gender inequality remains a significant problem in the workplace.
While there is much work to be done to address these issues, efforts have been made to raise awareness and create change to create a work environment that is safe, equitable, and accessible for all workers irrespective of gender.
3. Sexual Harassment and Assault
Sexual harassment and assault are major challenges women face especially in the workplace, schools, and public spaces.
Women are most vulnerable to such incidents because of the patriarchal society they live in. They are often seen as inferior, weaker, and objects of sexual desire.
This perception leads to unwanted attention, groping, molestation, and rape.
Women have to live in constant fear of being sexually harassed or assaulted, which affects their mental health and self-esteem.
It leads to trauma, depression, and anxiety, making it difficult for them to focus on their work or studies.
Related: 11 Reasons Why Women Love Drama
Sexual harassment and assault may also impact the victim’s physical health, resulting in eating disorders or substance abuse.
The problem of sexual harassment and assault is more severe for women who belong to minority groups, such as the LGBTQ+ community, women of color, and women with disabilities.
They are more likely to be victims of sexual violence and may also face discrimination and prejudice based on their identity.
The solution to this problem requires collective action from society, including education, prevention, and punishment.
It is vital to create awareness and provide training to prevent sexual harassment and assault from happening in the first place.
We must also develop effective systems for reporting and investigating incidents of sexual violence to bring justice to the victims.
Education and awareness are necessary to change the mindset of people and promote gender equality.
4. Menstrual Cramps and Hormonal Changes
Menstrual cramps and hormonal changes can be significant problems for women, both physically and emotionally.
Menstrual cramps are caused by contractions of the uterus as it sheds its lining during menstruation.
These contractions can cause pain and discomfort, ranging from mild to severe.
For some women, menstrual cramps can even interfere with their daily activities and prevent them from engaging in physical activity or work.
In addition to physical discomfort, hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle can also cause mood swings, irritability, and fatigue.
These symptoms can affect a woman’s relationships, work performance, and quality of life.
Hormonal changes can also have more long-term effects, such as changes in bone density and increased risk of certain health conditions, such as osteoporosis and depression.
Many women seek relief from menstrual cramps and hormonal changes through over-the-counter pain relievers, hormonal contraceptives, and other treatments.
However, it is important for women to talk to their healthcare provider to fully understand their individual needs and risk factors, and to receive appropriate treatment and care.
5. Pregnancy and Childbirth
Pregnancy and childbirth can be physically and emotionally challenging for women.
The physical changes during pregnancy such as weight gain, nausea, fatigue, and hormonal changes can cause discomfort and stress.
Additionally, pregnancy can also lead to health complications such as gestational diabetes and hypertension.
Childbirth itself can also be painful and stressful. Natural birth can involve a long and intense labor process, while cesarean delivery involves major surgery and a longer recovery period.
Moreover, many women face social and economic obstacles during pregnancy and childbirth.
Maternity leave, child care, and paid time off for medical appointments may not be available or affordable for many women.
Therefore, pregnancy and childbirth can be a problem for many women, and it is important to recognize and address these challenges to ensure the best possible outcomes for both the mother and baby.
6. Juggling Work, Family, and Personal Life Responsibilities
Juggling work, family, and personal life responsibilities can be overwhelming for anyone, regardless of gender.
However, studies show that women tend to face more difficulties in managing all these responsibilities compared to men.
This could be due to several factors, including gender stereotypes that place greater expectations on women to fulfill caregiving roles for children and elderly family members.
Women are also more likely to work part-time or take breaks from their careers to care for family members, which can impact their career progression and financial stability.
In addition, women are more likely to experience the “second shift,” which involves doing unpaid domestic work such as cooking, cleaning, and childcare after they finish their paid work.
To address this problem, it is important to promote gender equality and create policies that support women’s responsibilities as caregivers.
This could include providing flexible work arrangements, affordable childcare, and parental leave policies that are not only beneficial for women but also for their families and society as a whole.
7. Mental Health Issues, Including Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are two common mental health issues that can affect women.
These conditions can create distress and a sense of hopelessness to the person affected, which could lead to feelings of low self-esteem, sadness, difficulty sleeping, lack of self-confidence, and other adverse symptoms
Women are more prone to these conditions than men because of several reasons.
Firstly, it may be due to the hormonal changes they experience at different stages of their lives, such as menopause, pregnancy, and menstruation.
Secondly, they may have genetic factors that make them more susceptible to mental health issues.
Also, women may be dealing with social and environmental factors, such as caregiving responsibilities, poverty, and gender bias, that predispose them to anxiety and depression.
It is essential to get the right support and help when dealing with mental health issues.
This may include talking to family and friends, seeking professional help through counseling or medication, and exercising to release endorphins, which can help to improve mood.
By taking care of mental health, women can feel better, and lead healthier and more fulfilling lives.
8. Health Issues such as Breast Cancer, Osteoporosis, and Autoimmune Diseases
Breast cancer, osteoporosis, and autoimmune diseases are health issues that commonly affect women.
While men are also susceptible to these conditions, women are more likely to be affected due to biological and hormonal differences.
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the tissues of the breast. It is the most common cancer in women worldwide, and it can be fatal if not detected and treated early.
Risk factors for breast cancer include age, family history, certain genetic mutations, and exposure to estrogen.
Early detection and treatment are critical for improving survival rates.
Also Read: The Type of Women Men Can’t Afford to Lose
Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become weak and brittle, making them more susceptible to fractures.
Women are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis than men, primarily due to hormonal changes that occur during menopause.
Other risk factors for osteoporosis include vitamin D deficiency, smoking, alcohol consumption, and certain medications.
Autoimmune diseases are conditions where the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues and organs. There are over 80 autoimmune diseases, and the vast majority affect women.
These diseases can be chronic and debilitating and may affect various parts of the body, including the joints, skin, and organs.
Overall, these health issues are a significant concern for women’s health. It is essential for women to take measures to reduce their risk of developing these conditions, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting regular screenings, and seeking medical care promptly if symptoms arise.
9. Financial Insecurity and the Gender Pay Gap
Financial insecurity and the gender pay gap are two of the most significant challenges women face in today’s society.
Women are more likely to experience financial insecurity due to factors such as lower wages, unpaid caregiving responsibilities, and less access to educational and employment opportunities.
The gender pay gap further exacerbates this issue, as women earn less than men for doing the same work, which means that they are more likely to struggle to make ends meet.
The gender pay gap is a complex issue that affects women in different ways depending on their age, ethnicity, and level of education.
However, research consistently shows that women earn less than men across all sectors and industries, and in every country around the world.
This disparity not only affects women’s immediate financial situation but also their long-term financial stability, as they are less likely to save for retirement or have access to benefits like healthcare or paid time off.
Furthermore, the burden of unpaid caregiving responsibilities often falls disproportionately on women, which can lead to lost earnings and reduced career opportunities.
Women are more likely to take time off work to care for children, elderly parents, or family members with disabilities, which can derail their career progression and permanently affect their earning potential.
In conclusion, financial security and the gender pay gap are major issues facing women.
Addressing these issues requires significant policy changes to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work, have access to affordable childcare and paid family leave policies, and are provided with opportunities to advance in their careers.
By acknowledging and addressing these problems, we can work towards a more equitable and just society for women.
10. Double Standards for Behavior and Dress Compared to Men
Women are often held to different standards than men when it comes to behavior and dress.
Women are expected to dress modestly, while men are allowed to wear whatever they please.
Women who dress in a revealing or provocative way are often judged and shamed, while men who do the same are seen as confident and powerful.
Similarly, women are expected to behave in a certain way, and any deviation from these expectations is looked down upon.
For example, men are often applauded for being assertive and strong-willed, while women who exhibit these same traits may be called aggressive or bossy.
This double standard not only affects women’s personal choices but also their professional lives.
Women may be passed over for promotions and opportunities because they do not fit into the narrow criteria set by a male-dominated work culture.
Double standards for behavior and dress compared to men continue to exist and need to be addressed to create a more equitable and just society.
11. Gender Inequality
Despite significant strides towards gender equality in many parts of the world, women still face a wide range of challenges that are unique to their gender.
Gender inequality persists in many aspects of life, from the workplace to family dynamics, social norms, and culture.
Women are underrepresented in leadership, politics, and many fields that are traditionally male-dominated.
The gender pay gap is still significant, and women are more likely to face discrimination and harassment at work.
12. Reproductive Rights
Reproductive rights are one of the challenges women face. Reproductive rights are a contentious issue, with women’s right to control their bodies under constant attack.
The right to choose whether or not to have children is a fundamental human right that is often compromised in situations where abortion is illegal, or contraceptives are hard to access.
Women also face a lot of shame and stigma when it comes to their reproductive health, and getting adequate healthcare for issues like menstrual health or menopause can be challenging.
13. Violence Against Women
Violence against women is a global pandemic that affects women of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Women are more likely to experience sexual assault, domestic violence, and other forms of violence, which often go unreported or unprosecuted.
These issues can have lasting traumatic effects on women’s health, safety, and emotional well-being.
How Women are Overcoming their Challenges
Despite the challenges women face, they are thriving and making positive strides in society. Through education, leadership, activism, and support networks, they are taking a more active role in shaping the future and breaking down barriers for future generations.
In all of these, being a woman is also a source of joy, empowerment, and victory.
Here are some ways women are defying cultural norms and thriving in society:
- Breaking Down Gender Stereotypes: Women have been challenging gender stereotypes for generations, proving that they are just as capable as men in many areas of life. Women are now represented in leadership roles, boardrooms, and politics. They are breaking down barriers in traditionally male-dominated fields such as science, engineering, and technology. Female athletes are also making strides on the world stage, showing that women are just as capable of physical strength and endurance as men.
- Women are achieving greater political representation: Women are gradually occupying more prominent roles in politics, running for office, and holding public positions. This increasing representation is important for combating gender bias in policymaking and affecting positive changes for women.
- Women are pursuing higher education: Women are more likely than men to enroll in and graduate from college. By gaining higher education, women can attain more significant economic opportunities and reduce gender-based income disparities.
- Women in leadership: Women are increasingly taking on leadership roles in a variety of professions. By doing so, they offer alternative viewpoints, challenge discriminatory practices, and help lead the way toward more equitable and inclusive workplaces.
- The Rise of Feminism: The feminist movement has been critical in advocating for women’s rights and equality, leading to significant victories against the challenges women face, such as reproductive rights, equal pay, and anti-discrimination laws. The movement has also sparked conversations on issues such as gender identity, intersectionality, and sexual orientation, which has helped to broaden the scope of gender equality.
- Women Supporting Women: The sisterhood among women is powerful and empowering. Women are banding together to form networks, groups, and communities that provide support, encouragement, and education to other women. These communities are creating safe spaces for women to share their experiences, stories, and challenges, creating a sense of belonging and sisterhood.
The challenges women face are numerous in society just because they are women. However, being a woman is a journey full of challenges and victories.
Every day, women everywhere are pushing boundaries and breaking down barriers to create a more equitable world.
While there is still a lot of work to be done toward gender equality, women have proved that they are resilient, compassionate, and powerful in their own right.
If you are a woman reading this, continue to be strong and do not let your guard down.
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A Personal Development Content Creator and an author. I write about life ethics and love to document and share life hacks and experiences of people to help others make good life decisions.
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