Saturday, July 16, 2011

Empowered yet Stressed

(Photo Courtesy: Reuters)

Women of India are the most stressed in the world, according to a recent survey conducted by Nielson Holdings, a global information and measurement company to measure consumer behavior. Results of the survey show that 87 percent of Indian women surveyed felt stressed while 82 percent of Indian women surveyed felt they had no time to relax. Women from Sweden were the least stressed with 44 percent, according to the survey’s results.

The survey conducted earlier this year included 6,500 women from both developed and developing countries. It was conducted online among women (18 years of age and over) and cut across both social and economic lines.

But why are the women of developing countries in more stress than those of developed countries? Next to Indian women, Mexican women came in second in terms of stress and lack of time with 74 percent. Russia followed with 69 percent, which the survey blamed partly on the intense pace of social change there. Change which took a half century to evolve in developed countries has been compressed into a much shorter time there.

Opportunities in Developed v. Developing Countries (the numbers)

“Women across the globe are achieving higher levels of education, joining the workforce in greater numbers and contributing more to the household income,” said Susan Whiting, vice chair at Nielsen.

Women in developing countries believe their daughters will have even more opportunities then they did relative to their mothers. However, in developed countries, women surveyed believe their daughters will have the same opportunities, not more. In developing countries, 80 percent of women surveyed believe their daughters will have greater financial stability, while in developed countries, only 40 percent of mothers believe so. Eighty-three percent from developing countries believe their daughters will have a better education and 84 percent believe their daughters will have better access to technology. The figures in developed countries are 54 percent for education and 74 percent for better access to technology.

The survey also showed women talk 28 percent more and text 14 percent more than men every month and more than half of women in both developed (average 56 percent) and developing (average 71 percent) countries say the computer, mobile phones and smart phones have changed their lives for the better.

But the survey reports do not enter into the cause of stresses of women.

Possible Reasons for Stress Among Women Living in India

If we consider an Indian woman’s position in the family and in society, we find it she has yet to establish any real self-identity. Urban Indian women have changed a lot whilst society has remained static. For example, a woman has to take charge of the kitchen, even if she is an earning member of the family and has to go outside for her job. The husband will not take charge of the kitchen, though he remains unemployed, as it is a given for a man to cook for his family is against his manhood. Thus, a woman must walk a tightrope juggling a career and a busy home life as well as conform to traditional social standards.

Even if she is employed at the time of her marriage, the groom’s family still demands furniture, jewelry, and expensive household items, and even homes and expensive foreign holidays as modern dowries.

On the other hand, a woman who has been brought up with very orthodox cultural restrictions and was taught not to love anyone before marriage, at once expected by her parents that she would love a well-placed boy and would lessen the burden of a dowry with her love marriage. This double standard cultural temperament is also a cause of stress for unmarried woman, though the survey overlooked these social problems and concentrated more on economical aspects.

In the case of an unmarried woman, pronounced a spinster even in her late twenties, she brings shame upon her parents and is a burden. This is a cause for stress as well.

The Results (in order of the most stressed to the least stressed):

India: 87%

Mexico: 74%

Russia: 69%

Brazil: 67%

Spain: 66%

France: 65%

South Africa: 64%

Italy: 64%

Nigeria: 58%

Turkey: 56%

UK: 55%

USA: 53%

Japan: 52%

Canada: 52%

Australia: 52%

China: 51%

Germany: 47%

Thailand: 45%

South Korea: 45%

Malaysia: 44%

Sweden: 44%

The full survey may be accessed HERE.

A Call for Your Input

The table shows Indian women being more stressed than women of any other developed country. I hope this survey will shed some light and assist us for further research and study. But what are the socio economic causes for these stresses?

I solicit and welcome the opinions of my readers to find out and channelize the reasons behind the stresses of Indian women which the survey officially leaves out.