Women appear to be attaining equality, but arguably it’s not in the area we’d like, with recent research from the University of NSW noting women now consume as much alcohol as men and in some cases at higher rates and in more harmful ways.
Meanwhile, the ABC reports women also increased their alcohol consumption more than men during Coronavirus outbreak.
So, what exactly is going on?
After analysing numerous surveys and looking at data that dated back to 1891, the University of NSW recently determined women born in the early half of the 20th century were less than half as likely as men to drink, three times less likely to drink in ways suggesting problematic alcohol use and three-and-a-half times less likely to experience alcohol-related harms.
That means our great grandmothers, grandmothers and perhaps even mothers consumed significantly less alcohol than the men of their generation. There are no surprises there, but for women born in the latter half of the 20th century and particularly after 1981, things took a worrying turn.
UNSW found drinking rates of women and men born in the late 1900s reached parity.
Not only that, they noted: “A small proportion (5 per cent) of the individual sex ratios was less than one, the majority of which came from cohorts born after 1981. This suggests women born after this time may, in fact, be drinking at higher rates and in more harmful ways than their male counterparts.”
Earlier this month, the ABC reported on Australian National University research relating to alcohol consumption during the recent Covid-19 lockdown.
Again, it’s no surprise that drinking over this period picked up, with the survey finding almost 20 per cent of people drank more under lockdown than they usually did.
But it was women and particularly women with child rearing responsibility who really upped their consumption.
“Female drinkers were 1.3 times more likely to increase their drinking than men, particularly women aged 35 to 44 who have a university degree,” the ABC noted.
“Those who already drank three or more days a week, were more likely to drink under the added pressures of COVID-19.”
Stress and boredom were considered the major drivers, but childcare added to the equation.
“Researchers say a major reason why women started drinking more than men was a result of imbalances in caregiving,” the ABC reflected.
“The number of Australian women, whose main role is to provide care, rose at the start of 2020 (from 18.6 per cent to 20.9) and by May, almost a third of those women said they were consuming more alcohol than before.”
According to Australian Guidelines there is no entirely safe level of alcohol consumption, and of course drinking impacts everyone differently. That said, advice on reducing the risks associated with alcohol consumption includes:
· no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day for healthy men and women.
· A standard drink contains 10g of alcohol. Many drinks have more than 1 standard drink in them
· The less you choose to drink, the lower your risk of alcohol-related harm. For some people, not drinking at all is the safest option.
If you’re looking to take a break from alcohol and raise some much-needed funds for people affected by cancer, next month is Dry July.
Established in 2007, the fundraising initiative has raised over $24 million since it launched and sees people encouraged to make a healthy lifestyle choice and improve the wellbeing of cancer patients by funding services and support for those diagnosed, their families and carers.
You can learn more about Dry July here.