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You might have had to endure obscene comments from eve-teasers, causing you to experience unparalleled fear for your safety. Some women also experience their intelligence and driving capabilities being questioned because of their gender. When it comes to the matter of pay, several women walk into work knowing that their labour is not valued as much as their male counterparts.
Seen individually, these may seem like events one must tide over but over time, these events can have a very significant impact on our mental health. From making us anxious when we are in public places, to thinking we are not worthy of our achievements, certain gender-related experiences can often negatively impact our mental health.
We spoke to Dr Samir Parikh, Director, Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Fortis Healthcare, to understand the issue and know more about how to deal with it.
“It is true that gender plays a significant role in how our life shapes up but it is also important to be aware of social inequalities one might face because of it. Such an awareness will ensure that you’re able to process and deal with the mental health effects of such inequalities”, said Dr Samir Parikh.
According to Dr Parikh, there must be a two-pronged approach when it comes to gender-related inequalities and mental health effects of the same. The issue must be dealt with both at an individual as well as a social level.
When you experience ‘othering’ due to your gender, there are 3 things that Dr Parikh recommends to deal with the experience:
1. Reach out to your support network
Be it enduring eve-teasing, or discovering you’re not getting paid equal to your male counterparts, you must speak about your emotions with your close friends and family. It is extremely important to find comfort in your support network in order to deal with any gender-related bias you may have experienced.
2. Don’t let your self-image get dented
Experiencing repeated gender-based ‘othering’ can eventually lead you to think that you’re ‘less than’ those around you. It can make you believe that you’re not intelligent enough, or worthy enough of a better standard of life. But, do not let your self-image get hurt. From positive affirmation to speaking with a mental health professional, do whatever works for you when it comes to protecting yourself.
3. Call it out directly
Most women will tell you that they faced gender-related trauma at some point in life but stayed silent. To take the issue head on, you must call out anyone who might be discriminating against you due to your gender. If you’re not getting equal pay, contact HR. If someone is harassing you, confront them and call the women’s helpline.
Speaking about the role of society when it comes to handling gender-related trauma, Dr Parikh said, “Individual effort is important but even more important is social effort. If we make a collective effort to become a more equal society, we’ll see the problem of gender-related trauma reducing at individual levels as well. So, companies must ensure that they are creating an equal environment by offering equal benefits. The government authorities must continue with their effort to spread awareness about gender equality.”
So ladies, just believe in yourself, and don’t let anything that others say or do affect your peace of mind!