Women bear an invisible burden on which society utterly depends—ensuring they take care of their physical and mental health is everybody’s business.
Women bear a disproportionate amount of responsibility in society—earning money, caring for children and the elderly, cooking and cleaning. Much of this burden is invisible, adding to their strain, putting them at risk of suffering physical or mental ills.
Research by KinderCare supports this. 75% of mothers with children under 18 work full time, with 86% of working mothers saying they are in charge of all domestic and family duties. A high proportion of them—a staggering 92%—say they feel overwhelmed by the challenge of balancing workplace, parenting and domestic responsibilities.
“These figures paint a picture of a group that is overstretched and under strain. Mental and physical ailments are inevitable and yet they tend to be pushed aside because there is just too much to do or the cost is too high,” says Kena Health’s Clinical Care Lead, Chido Siame. . “But given their outsize role, women’s health is not just a personal issue but one that is existential for society as a whole.”
Another challenge is that women have unique and complex health needs, including contraception and sexual/ reproductive health, many of which are surrounded by taboos or stigma. This feeds a tendency to ignore mental and physical health issues, with hugely negative long-term impacts.
As if those weren’t challenges enough, women continue to earn less than men. Although the gender pay gap is closing slowly, the World Economic Forum estimates that it will take Sub-Saharan Africa 102 years to close the gap completely. This puts women at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing expensive private healthcare. Considering 84% of South Africans do not have medical aid many turn to the public sector. The public healthcare system is plagued by long wait times—time that many working women simply do not have. Treatment in the public sector also often lags what is available in the private sector.
“There’s a hope in an otherwise dire picture—the emergence of technology-based healthcare companies like Kena Health that totally disrupt the existing healthcare paradigm,” says Chido Siame. “The Kena Health app revolutionises healthcare and mental health counselling by providing women with rapid access to high-quality medical professionals in a totally confidential and secure setting—and at a highly affordable rate of R 185 per consultation, a fraction of the cost of most private GPs and therapists.”
A further benefit is that mothers can also use Kena Health to access medical care for their children in the same way.
“Women play a uniquely important role in families and society more broadly. Kena Health is using technology innovatively to make healthcare accessible to women and their children in the most convenient manner and at a much more affordable price point,” she concludes. “This Women’s Month, our hope is that more women will take advantage of this new approach to ensure they take control of their health—for all our sakes.”