It is not much of a stretch to say that the pandemic has impacted everyone, in ways big and small. Yet, there are some eye-opening numbers about how women, in particular, have been affected. Female participation in the workforce has dropped to levels not seen since the early 1980s.
More than 2.5 million women left work last year. Either they lost their jobs or were unable to juggle work, childcare, homeschool and household responsibilities.
The pandemic has changed how we work. It now allows home-based, part-time or more flexible work hours. This new flexibility, however, isn’t without its drawbacks. Even in the best of times, women bear primary responsibility for running their household and managing childcare, schooling and household upkeep along with their jobs.
And, during the pandemic, with children at home around the clock, it’s become harder.
More women will keep working remotely
Experts say more women than men will choose or will be forced to keep working remotely when work sites re-open. That’s because many aspects of “COVID life” still exist. Those include hybrid and virtual school, reduced access to childcare and eldercare, and other household concerns.
Lack of visibility in the workplace means missing out on face-to-face interactions, including networking and mentoring. This can lead to fewer promotions and job opportunities.
Long term work at home may also increase loneliness and continues to blur work-life boundaries needed to be successful in each role.
Some experience “reentry anxiety” more acutely
Women Veterans, women of color and those with low incomes experience these struggles even more acutely and may experience “reentry anxiety” – uncertainty about the future and going back to work, and how it will continue to affect their daily lives, finances and health.
It is another layer of stress for many women Veterans already dealing with physical and mental health concerns.
What’s clear is that women need support now more than ever. There are no easy answers about what a post-COVID work and family life may look like. Or what the best options may be for you and your family.
VA wants to help you manage your work re-entry, whatever form it takes, and your health and well-being.
VA offers a range of resources for women Veterans
VHA Women’s Health provides a variety of services and resources to help Veterans navigate the range of challenges that can accompany pregnancy, childbirth, parenthood and beyond.
VA provides resources such as telehealth and virtual care, reproductive mental health care and stress management. It supports expecting and new mothers, parents of toddlers and young children, and parents with teens.
- Parenting Support and Classes: VA provides free, online courses to provide military and Veteran parents with information and strategies to improve their parenting skills.
- Family Therapy: Veterans may face struggles in their relationships with their spouses and children. The Couples and Family Therapy Clinic offers virtual or in-person therapy sessions and Behavioral Parent Training.
- Virtual Mental Health Care: Veterans can connect with a VA mental health provider through a computer or mobile device from the comfort of their home or at their nearest VA health facility.
- VBA Career and Employment Resources: Offers the help you need to build your career and find the opportunities that are right for you.
- Career One Stop: Provides information about jobs, training, career resources, and unemployment benefits for transitioning service members, Veterans and military spouses.
The Women Veterans Call Center is also a helpful resource. It can direct you to resources, whatever your needs may be.
Call (855) 829-6626 for personalized information regarding health care and mental health services, VA programs and resources, VA benefits, or to be connected with a Women Veteran Program Manager. You can find one at every VA medical center.
Dr. Patricia Hayes is chief officer for women’s health at the Veterans Health Administration.