Why Is It Vital To Pillar Women's Wellbeing At Work

According to a study by Statista, the lack of provisions for women has led them to leave their existing occupations and turn down potential job opportunities

As the modern workplaces are preparing themselves to be more inclusive of female workers, the hiring for female employees in the workforce has been increasing by each passing day in every industry. However, the awareness and knowledge pertaining to women’s health in the workplace still requires a lot of consideration and attention. 

According to a study by Statista, the lack of provisions for women has led them to leave their existing occupations and turn down potential job opportunities. 

With women's participation at work in India dropping from approximately 36 per cent in 2021 to around 33 per cent in 2022, it is important for employers to ensure that conscious efforts are made towards women’s health at the workplace. As women are taking more and more positions of power in the workplace, their levels of stress are increasing, and with the added social expectations of taking care of both their personal as well as professional lives, women are at the locus of workplace health awareness and policies. Moreover the fact that-- large aspects of women’s lives are affected by the different life phases (menstruation, maternity and menopause)--also needs to be taken into consideration while ensuring health awareness at the workplace. 

Women’s Health Awareness in the workplace can range from Stress Management and Mental Health Management, Physical Activity and Fitness Management, Support for Reproductive Health, and Child Care Support. 

Aspects of Women’s Health at the Workplace

It has taken the world a long time to change the mindset that women can take an equal space in the workplace, however despite the change in gender ratio in jobs, women are still expected to take care of home. This dual responsibility often takes a toll on the mental and physical health of women. While more and more men are becoming active participants within the home domain, this change is extremely slow, and the oweness of home management and child care, along with responsibility of taking care of the family often falls on the shoulder of women. Accompanied with the stressful aspects of a fast-paced workplace, this can lead to severe stress and burnout.

Mental and Physical Stress Management

Work places that ensure that employees have the time to relax and share their tasks, are extremely conducive in supporting women’s health. It is important for employers to conduct regular pulse surveys to understand the mental health needs of their employees, so that awareness sessions, mental health webinars/ seminars, and well-being activities can be conducted from time to time. Another aspect that often affects the mental health of women in the workplace is physical or sexual harassment. Often unsolicited comments on clothing and/or verbal or physical intimidation clubbed with micro aggressions can lead to the diminishing of women’s belief in their capabilities. In fact an absence of agency in case of experiencing any form of harassment in the workplace can lead to a lot of long term self-doubt and trauma, which may inhibit women from performing to the best of their capabilities. POSH committees and harassment awareness in organisations can really help employees understand which behaviours need to be kept in check while working in mixed gendered workplaces. 

Policy Interventions

Further, an introduction of supportive policies that cater to the reproductive health of women such as menstrual leave policy, maternity benefits’ policy , and sanitation and health management at the work place can be useful not only for ensuring physical but also, for mental well-being. Access to hygiene management products through sanitary kits and vending machines; first aid kits consisting painkillers; hot water bottles; and a medical room in the workplace are a great way to prevent any stress or worry that women may face in the workplace while managing their menstrual needs. 

Workplace Initiatives

Other initiatives that can aid women’s health include: Flexible work hour options as part of the company culture; Gender-specific health-risk assessments; Gynecologic Health Camps at the work place, access to employee assistance programme with information on women-related ailments, symptoms, treatments, medicines, etc.; insurance policies that cover their special health concerns, such as pregnancy, postpartum care, and reproductive problems; and motivating women to stay active by offering them memberships to a gym or a weekly dance/yoga class.

Access to childcare facilities can also help ensure that women worry less about the wellbeing of their young children, while at work and thus perform at their maximum potential. 

Prioritising Working Women’s Healthcare

Suitable provisions towards healthcare in the workplace are vital. It is high time that employers become more inclusive in their workplace, not only in terms of increasing female positions in the company, but also in terms of catering to gender specific needs. The focus is not only to hire more females, but to also ensure that women continue to work, while feeling safe and stress free. When Employers are focused towards wellness management, employees can focus towards managing their work with greater attention. 

Tags assigned to this article:
Women's health workplace wellness


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