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Work-for-Home to Work-from-Home stressed women in Lockdown

Nine out of 10 respondents revealed that they had to seek some kind of counselling to cope with the mental health fallout of the unprecedented lockdown.

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Image Courtesy: PTI

Lockdown has affected the woman, by all means, managing family without house help, taking care of the job and above all managing financial and children’s study stress is something the woman of the house had to take on her. Women seem to be more strained than men during the Pandemic.

There is a need to introspect the inflexibility around gender responsibilities in the traditional meaning of the term. Women belonging to families, where these responsibilities are not as rigid as they used to be, are not as stressed during this period of lockdown. The coronavirus lockdown in India has, ironically, doubled the burden: work-from-home and work-for-home. The coronavirus pandemic and the unique lockdown that followed have led to the rise in stress levels among people worldwide.

Various studies have warned of an impending risk of a major global mental health crisis due to the coronavirus outbreak. Young women seem to be at particular risk of developing mental health problems as a result of the pandemic. The survey conducted by the NGO Population Foundation of India looked at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people between 10 and 24 years in UP, Bihar, and Rajasthan in May.

Nine out of 10 respondents revealed that they had to seek some kind of counselling to cope with the mental health fallout of the unprecedented lockdown. The higher stress level in young women was linked to a variety of reasons, including extra workload at home, family pressure, withdrawal of education, and lack of access to their basic needs. Disruptions in the daily routine triggering spike in eating disorder cases.

Unfortunately, many women had no idea what was in store for them. In the absence of the support staff consisting of a cook and two maids, the major share of household chores rested on their shoulder. Her day starts early, almost at 6 am because she needed to cook breakfast and clean the house before she started her office work at 9 am. Around noon she would leave her office work unattended to cook lunch and since she didn’t have the time to eat her meals peacefully, she would eat whatever she could between online meetings and presentations. Unable to handle the pressure after four long months, many broke down and sought help from a counselling psychologist. Over the past many days, women have been fighting in vain to secure entry for their domestic help into their residential society.

Above all, this is work-from-home, not a holiday. Without the maid, it’s impossible to cook, clean and take care of the kid. As the “woman of the house,” the responsibility of running the household, which includes husband, children and other members. All that exclusively falls on the woman of the house.

In the absence of the domestic help who otherwise handled most of these chores—cleaning, mopping, washing dishes, babysitting—carries the additional physical and mental burden now. For that is the rule instinctively adhered to in Indian families where male members are not expected to perform household tasks. There is a very clear gender dimension to it (the lockdown) because most Indian households don’t have equal sharing of housework. Even though the husband and wife may be both working from home, the load will be disproportionately borne by the women. And this doesn’t mean full-time homemakers are better off. They will have the added issue of catering to the demands of their husbands, fathers-in-law, or brothers-in-law, who are at home now.

There are many single women in the city and they have their different challenges, one in three women are currently suffering from loneliness owing to pandemic and lockdown. Social distancing and isolation have created a void in these women’s mind and that has led to loneliness, a complex human emotion that can gradually lead to depression and then suicide, if not addressed on time.

Recently, researchers at the University of Essex conducted a study and found out that women are more vulnerable to mental health problems during the coronavirus pandemic than men. The study revealed that the number of women suffering from stress and loneliness during the COVID-19 outbreak has risen from 11 per cent to 27 per cent. On the other hand, the number of men suffering from at least one mental condition has reached 18 per cent from 7 per cent. Notably, loneliness is described as a state of solitude and feeling alone. It can leave you feeling unwanted and empty. People suffering from loneliness crave human attention and communication but feel difficult to form connections.

There are an array of reasons why you may feel lonely. Four-five long months, all alone in four walls, with multiple issues to handle, in such a situation’s loneliness leads to alcoholism, antisocial behaviour, decreased memory, altered brain function, and hopelessness. Anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, and lack of physical activity are some of the biggest challenges that Sheila and her husband face and the couple admits that they have become apprehensive, resentful, anxious and prone to anger. Now commuting to the office in Bus is another challenge, local trains yet to resume. Limited buses running on limited frequencies, imagine how much stress this is. Long hours going in a queue, then getting a seat, then travelling distance. Woman traveller spends her maximum time commuting. Her day starts very early and hardly any night time in her kitty. We as society and authorities, need to felicitate women with some facilities, where the like can become a little easy for her.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for past 16 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazine Beyond The News, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs. Besides journalism, she is also an Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author.
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