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.

12 comments:

BIJAYA JENA said...

Even if the Indian woman of any strata is a working woman, she still has to do all the chores of the house and so she is stressed out and has no time for herself.Her job is never for 8 hours, rather it is for 24 hours.These days many career women also have to take care of the studies of the children,give helping hands to their in-laws where as in developed countries most of the household work is shared by the husband and in-laws do not live with them.It will take years to change the mindset of these men.Mexican men are quite like Indian me but its surprising to know about Russia as former USSR, the society was very progressive and men share the burden.Their cause perhaps is different than ours.They do have economic problems and a vast disparity among the rich and poor.The KGB has turned to Mafia and are billionaires and the poor class is so poor that the Russian women are taking up belly dancing in Middle-East and its a sad state of affairs.I would rather prefer SOCIALISM than have democracy and not being able to tackle the social,economic change,not offering social security to the citizens and have the women fend for themselves by belly dancing or selling their bodies.

BIJAYA JENA said...

Indian working women work 24 hours including the 8 hours job they do.The men do not share in the household chores .Its matter of mindset.Indian women also lend helping hands to their in-laws and take care of the children.Mexican men have the same attitude.But what is shocking is the developed Russian society.Former USSR did not have this problem but now there is too much of disparity among the rich and the poor.The KGB has become the Mafia and hence are billionaires.The poor women do not have social security and migrate to Middle-East for belly dancing or the flesh trade.I would rather prefer SOCIALISM than have democracy and create such a situation that the government can not handle the social or economic change.As a communist state USSR offered security to the children whether they are born from the wedlock or not.The women at least did not bother about survival or the responsibility of raising children if they are single parents.For the same reason China is not in the list.

SAHYOG said...

India is going through a very complicated stage, where women (urban mostly) are supposedly getting more and more independent, as they are better educated than their mothers, have equal opportunities as far as jobs are concerned, can choose their life partners and settle down in whichever part of the globe they want, but at the same time, they are not fully free of their responsibilities towards the two families, especially the families of their spouses and their domestic responsibilities are not equally shared by their spouses, at least in India, while the conditions are much better outside India. Definitely, the present generation of Indian urban women (between the ages of 18 and 30) are better off, when compared to their mothers, who are sandwiched between the family responsibilities as in the last quarter of 20th century, where they are totally responsible to take care of ailing and aged parents-in-law, however rude and impersonal they are and however much it is taxing and a very demanding next generation who are only as independent as to be arrogant and claim rights but never share the responsibilities. Not only this, since they are almost the first generation fully employed women, who have to balance a very challenging work life and demanding domestic life. After all this, they are not also respected and loved by the in-laws, because they are only looked upon as glorified maids, cooks and nurses! The children go away from homes or even if they live together, they are very self-centred and different in their attitudes. These conditions cause a lot of stress to urban women.

In the case of illiterate women and women in the rural areas, it is the age-old system of multi-tasking as a very responsible daughter-in-law, wife, mother and earning member of the family, despite not enjoying all the rights of one, causes too much of stress.

Sudha Narasimhachar

Drrb said...

your article is unbeatable. Fantastic data collection and beautiful logic. In India women are worshipped as goddess and humiliated as maid servants. Their life is harrowing at home particularly in the domestic arena. Even if you give freedom to a woman in India, their mindset is not ready to accept the challenge. Seats reserved in buses and trains only intensify the separation and stresses of alienation. We praise the Japanese women simply because they make good home. Women are regarded as weaker section in India. One Kiron Bedi or Indira Gandhi prove to be exceptional. In general women lack self confidence. Restoration of confidence and change of mindset are required.

Dileep Jhaveri said...

Dominating male is natural to the orthodox culture of Catholic Spain, Hindu India and interior Russia. But Soviet Russia did see the woman rising in several fields, so it is surprising that even today the women there are stressed. In India a woman has not only to earn and cook but in urban areas she has to take care of children's education, health and entertainment also. Men are selfish as well as tradition bound. They feel that they are always right as long as they are observing the traditional social dictates and they turn into dictators while remaining dependant on women. The paradox will be solved only if the women demand their rights and involve their children, particularly the daughters by enlightening them.
The sruggle is worth and will bear visible results. The success of woman will ultimately be a success of humanity.

Monika Pant said...

Women in India are the most stressed. Yes, women are not only doing work outside the house, having to prove themselves again and again at home and at work. All the usual pressures of work like meeting deadlines and office politics, she also has to combat backbiting, prejudices directed against her as she's a woman. Then, she comes back and has to explain to husband and in-laws why she is late. Then again, all hospitality and catering to unannounced guests, upholding of traditions and customs, following religious ceremonies and rituals, looking after ailing grandmothers-in-law and extended family, relatives and husband's colleagues...the list goes on. When would she keep herself updated so that she can get her due at office? When does she get time to soak her feet in warm water and pamper herself? She hardly sits to have a leisurely cup of tea. Housework, kids' schoolwork, maid problems are her responsibility...what the hell! If Indian women are goddesses they should damn well be treated like goddesses and not sexually harassed at office and behaved with like doormats at home! Stressed she is and will be, until Indian men can swallow their pride and not just dig into the salaries of their wives, but also give them the dignity that their women deserve.

Supriya Panda said...

Indian women are more stressed because they shoulder much more responsibilities than the women of other countries. Moreover, in India hardly the "impact" of their stress is shared by her family members. It is taken for granted.

sanju said...

The survey was conducted through the internet – that means it only took into account the opinions of the women belonging to the middle or affluent class, urbanite women, who are in all probability could be the working ladies. This is not to suggest that the women from poor socio-economic stratum are less stressed. On the contrary, I believe their responsibilities as well as the resulting level of stress could be much more than those from the higher echelon.
Even among the employed class of women, the type of jobs today’s women take up has also changed a lot. Thirty years ago, the women mostly took care to choose their jobs i.e. going for supposedly less stressful jobs like teachers. But these days, they are ready to take up the challenges and for them, sky is the limit. While it has been easy to achieve the much desired economic freedom, the society as whole, imbued with long traditional (mis?)placed values, hasn’t been able to cope with the transition. This also includes the stressed out woman as well.
But here I am tempted to put forward a fact that probably relates to the above study. In India, the biggest advantage of the working women is the availability of domestic help, something I believe, may not easily be available in western countries. So, that to a certain extent must be alleviating some of the physical workloads of the respondents to the survey.

sanju said...

The survey was conducted through the internet – that means it only took into account the opinions of the women belonging to the middle or affluent class, urbanite women, who are in all probability could be the working ladies. This is not to suggest that the women from poor socio-economic stratum are less stressed. On the contrary, I believe their responsibilities as well as the resulting level of stress could be much more than those from the higher echelon.
Even among the employed class of women, the type of jobs today’s women take up has also changed a lot. Thirty years ago, the women mostly took care to choose their jobs i.e. going for supposedly less stressful jobs like teachers. But these days, they are ready to take up the challenges and for them, sky is the limit. While it has been easy to achieve the much desired economic freedom, the society as whole, imbued with long traditional (mis?)placed values, hasn’t been able to cope with the transition. This also includes the stressed out woman as well.
But here I am tempted to put forward a fact that probably relates to the above study. In India, the biggest advantage of the working women is the availability of domestic help, something I believe, may not easily be available in western countries. So, that to a certain extent must be alleviating some of the physical workloads of the respondents to the survey.

Kalimullah said...

पुराने ज़माने से ये रिवायत रही बेटी को रुख़सत करते वक़्त ये नसीहत की जाती हॆ
बेटी हमारे घर से तेरी डोली उठी हे, सुसराल से तेरी चिता/मईयत उठनी चाहिये अब मजाज़ी ख़ुदा ख़ुआ कॆसा भी हो मालिक ऒर आक़ा हॆ. उसपर शिकवा ऒर शिकायत का हक़ बीवी को हासिल नही.मां बाप के घर में इज़्ज़त ऒर ग़ॆरत उस के पाऊं की ज़नजीर थी ऒर शॊहर के घर इस के साथ उसकी शख़सी ज़िन्दगी पर ख़ाविन्द की मिलकियत होती हॆ
I can guess only, I am not Indian, fortunately or unfortunately not a woman. But I am sure that stress on individual is directly proportional to the expectations. A favorite player or team lost his match in front of his home crowd, because crowd expect high performance from team or individuals Just imagine that what is expected from women of this region , India in particular. Traditionally man is expected to earn money and women should run home, to run home is not simple as it appears to be, she should endure all unpleasant menial work like bondage labor, produce child, male child at all cost. But traditionally earning money is the responsibility of men not women.
Now the time is changed women of India become earning member and sharing cash money with men to cope the expenditure, but men is not sharing domestic work with women, doing domestic work is still against the manhood unlike in west where every responsibility is shared by husband and wife (to become pregnant and produce child is still responsibility of women, because at present it cannot be change by law or by women protest).
High expectations from women are result of stress which women of India are enduring.

bijayini said...

Juxstaposition of defication and defilement of women in India has made womenfolk to walk on a double-edged sword.To me this creates stress.

Eclipse said...

Wow, I feel so sad for these women. This should not happen in this day and age.

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