Let’s Prioritize Women’s Wellbeing
“Happy Women’s Day.” This message is meant to embody and convey the immense love, respect, and gratitude we feel for the women in our lives — the ones who gave birth to us and are part of our families, the ones who work with us, and the ones we meet every day in every walk of life. However, even as we set aside a day to ‘celebrate’ women, we can’t ignore the inequality that women are subject to across domains — not just in society, education, business and industry, governance, etc., but also in having the basic need for wellbeing met.
According to the 2020 Global Women’s Health Index, more than 1.5 billion women worldwide were not tested for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and STDs in the 12 months preceding the survey. An Indian women’s health report revealed 50% of the surveyed women are not comfortable talking about health issues due to prevalent societal taboo and stigmas. Clearly, women’s wellbeing is still considered a privilege rather than a fundamental right.
I believe this needs to change immediately. We can't build a healthy and happy society and a better future for our children without ensuring the Wholistic Wellbeing of women. Here’s how we can make a difference and help women prioritize their wellbeing:
Change begins at home
Women need to prioritize their wellbeing at home and this begins with an emphasis on self-care from childhood. To help young girls to grow up to be healthy, emotionally and mentally strong, and independent women, we need to ensure that our daughters feel cared for at home. This starts with giving them equal opportunities in education and enabling them to choose and excel in their careers of choice.
The daily grind is always stressful, and more so for women, given the many roles they juggle. The pandemic has only exacerbated this, having a major impact on women’s mental health. For most women, balancing life and work, getting better sleep, parenting, eating healthy, and coping with stress is not easy without the support of their families. According to this study, the burden of care and domestic work is thrice as much on women than on men, with the divide being worse for women in low- and middle-income countries.
We can remedy this with something as simple as ensuring equitable distribution of household chores among family members. This will help take the load off women and enable them to take time out for self-care and wellbeing-enhancing activities — whether it be to exercise or meditate, socialize, pursue a hobby, or anything else. We also need to focus on women’s healthcare, including regular health check-ups and medical attention when necessary.
Change at the workplace
While women have made great strides at the workplace, the workplace still needs to up its game to ensure they get equal opportunities and a conducive atmosphere to pursue and excel in their careers. Many organizations tout a flexible work culture and wellbeing initiatives for women, but the ground reality can be quite different. Across industries, women bear the brunt of gender discrimination and stereotyping at the workplace. Many women refrain from availing flexible working options for fear it will stunt their growth. A large proportion of working women face a conflict of interest while balancing familial/personal and professional obligations.
According to a global workplace report, wellbeing among employed women is declining, whether or not they have children, faster than among working men; 46% of working women in 2020 reported stress “a lot of the day yesterday,” as compared to 42% men. Besides, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in nearly 1 in 10 women quitting their job.
To facilitate women's wellbeing at the workplace and prevent job loss, we need to introduce programs and policies that help them manage stress at work. Companies should promote a culture of wellbeing that focuses on assessing employees’ needs, implementing an effective wellbeing program, and nudging behavior change by giving employees access to knowledge and tools — apps, one-on-one counseling, etc. — to improve wellbeing.
At Roundglass, where we are working to democratize Wholistic Wellbeing for the world, women’s wellbeing is an organizational priority. Our Roundglass Living app is a digital coach that women can use to chart their individual wellbeing journeys choosing their preferred practice pathways (yoga, meditation, nutrition, music, and more) to live happier, healthier, and more meaningful lives in harmony with the community and the planet.
Change in society
Beyond the home and the workplace, women’s position can be further strengthened by securing their social, community, and financial wellbeing. This means not just empowering women financially but also ensuring their participation in decision-making in the family, society, and governance.
We also need to ensure women’s social, community, and financial wellbeing by increasing awareness on women’s rights, health, and wellbeing-related issues, especially among rural women. At the Roundglass Foundation, we are empowering women financially through self-help groups and spreading awareness about health and hygiene, waste management etc. Watch how Rajpal Kaur, who always dreamt of having a ‘job’, not only gained economic independence with help from the Foundation but also helped break menstrual taboos and empower other women. We’re encouraging girls like young Jasmeet to play sports such as football and take charge of their learning.
Let’s come together to prioritize Wholistic Wellbeing for women at all levels and make it a purposeful mission.