REPORT | Mental health challenges remain as top issues for women


Lungile Mahluza | Chief People Officer | Deloitte Africa | mail me |

I am quite concerned that 29% of the women surveyed globally have expressed that they feel their right to live free from violence is deteriorating.

Closer to home, it is concerning that at 19% more than the global average, 50% of the South African women surveyed feel that their right to earn an equal wage is deteriorating. It is a sad reflection that the call for equal pay has not translated into reality for many women.

There is clearly more action needed to make the world more equitable for women. Let’s do our part to #CountHerIn in policies, work culture and in forming mental health solutions.

Now in its fourth year, our Global’s Women @ Work: A Global Outlook report examines some of the critical workplace and societal factors that have a profound impact on women’s careers. Representing the views of 5,000 women from organisations across 10 countries including South Africa, the report seeks to understand the lived experiences of women at work.

The report has highlighted the challenges below as top issues amongst others:

  • Women are more stressed, mental health stigma persists, and long working hours take a toll

Half of the women in this year’s survey describe their stress levels as higher than a year ago, and a similar number say they’re concerned or very concerned about their mental health.

  • Many women are working through pain

More than a quarter (27%) of women say they have experienced challenges related to menstruation, menopause, or fertility whereas more than 40% of women who experience high levels of pain due to menstruation say they work through it without taking time off work, like in 2023.

  • Women who live with a partner still bear the most responsibility for childcare and – increasingly – care of other adults

This year, half of women who live with a partner and have children at home bear the most responsibility for childcare, up from 46% last year.

This compares to 12% who say their partner takes the lead, and 26% who say they split childcare responsibilities equally with their partner.

  • Flexibility and work/life balance are critical for retention

Women who are currently looking to leave their employer for another organisation cite poor work/life balance and a lack of flexibility on working hours among the top reasons.

Women who have left their employer in the past year cite inadequate pay, work/life balance, and a lack of flexibility among the main reasons. Conversely, those who plan to stay with their organisation for five or more years say that the ability to manage work/life balance and the weight of personal responsibilities alongside their career is one of the top reasons for staying.

Despite this, this year’s report shows that fewer women than last year feel supported by their employers to balance their work responsibilities with their commitments outside work.

  • Hybrid work experiences are improving, but some women have adjusted following the re-introduction of return-to-office policies

This year, there’s an improvement in women’s experiences of hybrid working, but about three in 10 women who work in a hybrid way are still experiencing exclusion from meetings, a lack of predictability and flexibility in their working pattern.

  • Women are feeling unsafe in the workplace, and non-inclusive behaviours continue

Nearly half of all respondents are concerned about their personal safety in the workplace or while commuting or traveling for work.

  • Gender equality leaders are still rare

As with previous years, the survey identified a small number gender equality leaders organisations. Only 6% of the women in the survey work for one of these organisations.

These women feel safer, are more comfortable talking about their mental health at work and are more comfortable to work flexibly without it affecting their careers badly.



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