Study shows pandemic’s impact on Northeast Wisconsin women

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 6:04 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Back in March, 1,050 women from the Northeast Wisconsin region participated anonymously in a month-long study that showed some of their biggest challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Women’s Fund of Greater Green Bay teamed up with the Women’s Funds in the Fox Valley Region, Oshkosh Area, and the Fond du Lac area for a local perspective on how the pandemic dramatically impacted women.

“And now it’s, you know, our job to take that information and deliver it to those areas of the community that do drill in,” said Karlene Grabner, Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.

The study focused on employment and income, ability to pay rent/mortgage, child care responsibilities, children and schooling, post-secondary education, mental health, and hostility and violence.

The study found 31% of women took prescription medication to help with their level of stress during the pandemic.

19% of women who needed counseling from a mental health professional, could not get it.

More than 50% of working women aged 18 to 34 reported a lack of child care had a moderate or significant impact on their employment.

13% of women received some type of community aid in the form of financial assistance or food during the pandemic.

More than 80% reported their daily stress increased during the pandemic.

More than one-third of women had children under the age of 18 living in their homes that required supervision.

“When you take away the support systems for women when the schools are closed, daycares are closed, you take away the support system, more than 70% of women reported that it had a moderate or significant impact on their mental health,” said Karen Monfre, President of the Women’s Fund of Greater Green Bay.

The study saw a significant increase in domestic violence or child abuse.

“One step above, you know, kind of what the norm had been pre-COVID was the next level up during COVID time for both violence against women and violence against children,” said Maria Turner, Executive Director of the Fond du Lac Area Women’s Fund.

National studies showed similar trends, but Turner said it was important to find out what was happening locally.

“It will be impactful to non-profits who may be working in these fields specifically with populations of women and their ability to go out and educate their donors, their ability to go out and write grants based on actual statistical data,” said Turner.

The Women’s Fund raises money to provide grants to local organizations. Now with this data, they will have a better understanding of where their money needs to go. For example, domestic violence prevention groups or others that help women in the workforce.

“To try to use the results from the survey to help focus our grant efforts so that we can improve the gaps that we know exist,” said Monfre.

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