While the entry of women in the labour force has brought about several positive changes in society as well as the economy, it has led to some serious problems as well – those related to their health.
While sociologists say it is time for men to share the responsibility of household chores, health experts warn against the growing stress among working women and suggest ways to keep personal health in check.
Dr Devi Prasad, professor at Centre for Equity for Women Children and Families, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Work, said that during a similar study a few years ago, working women in middle-level positions told him the major reason for stress is that their husbands have not moved forward with the times. “Men still come home and relax. Our cultural codes are such that women are burdened with expectations to handle all household chores,” he said.
Dr YS Nandanwar, head of obstetrics department at Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Sion, said women need breaks at work more than men. Nandanwar cited his own study conducted a few years ago on a group of nurses at KEM Hospital, in which he found that despite being in the healthcare field and thus more aware of medical problems than other women, they seldom underwent medical check-ups. “We found that menopausal problems in nurses were more than in homemakers,” he said. “Women should strictly get the weekend off.”
Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Pradeep Bhosale said in Mumbai, long hours spent in commuting add to the stress. “Wasting time like this, women get little time for themselves. At work, the lifestyle is mostly sedentary. This affects health a lot,” he said, adding women must take small breaks at work and walk. About the stress being greater for working women, however, Prasad said, “Many homemakers feel lonely and even useless, and suffer stress, especially when their children begin to go to school or start working."