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Working Women in India: A Catch-22

Context

Time-use studies show the need to address gender bias in work-life balance as India strives for a women-led development model.

Relevance:

GS Paper-1: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies

Mains Question

What role does addressing gender bias in work-life balance play in India’s quest for women-led development? Talk aabout (150 words)


The Value of Leisure Time:

  • Leisure gives people the time and space they need to unwind, recharge, and partake in enjoyable pursuits.
    • It is a crucial component of human existence and is linked to better mental and physical outcomes.
  • Despite the value of leisure, discussions about work, employment, and labour force participation frequently take precedence.
  • Work overload and job demands can have a negative impact on women’s health in the form of burnout and reduced job satisfaction, according to a study that was published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.
  • People can disconnect from their daily obligations and recharge during their free time.
    • It encourages stress resistance, elevates mood, and helps people form social connections.

Working women and Leisure Time Inequality:

  • Finding time for leisure activities is a significant challenge for working women. In addition to their obligations in the workplace, they frequently shoulder an excessive number of domestic duties, such as childcare and housework.
  • As a result of this double burden, women may find it difficult to find time for leisure and other self-care activities.
    • According to an Oxford University study, women perform 60% more unpaid work than men, including domestic and caregiving tasks.
  • A study that used information from a Time Use Survey (TUS) conducted by the Union ministry of statistics and programme implementation in 2019 made clear the impact on working women’s free time.
  • The population’s time spent on nine main categories of activities was measured by the survey. 257,677 people between the ages of 21 and 59 made up the sample for the analysis, of which 131,543 women and 126,134 men.
  • The analysis showed that compared to working men and women who don’t spend any time on work-related activities, women who work spend significantly less time on leisure activities.
    • While working men spent 12% of their time on leisure activities, working women only spent 8.7% of their typical day doing so.

Taking on the Challenge:

  • By making policy changes that take into account the dual burden of domestic and professional responsibilities that women bear, the gap in leisure time for working men and women can be narrowed.
    • Expanding women’s leisure opportunities may have significant positive effects on their health, their families, and the economy.
  • Understanding the value of leisure time in people’s lives and the difficulties experienced by specific groups, like working women, lays the groundwork for more equitable policies and societal norms.
  • Offering working women more flexibility in their work arrangements is one way to lessen the pressure on them.
    • Working women can better manage their conflicting commitments with flexible work schedules or remote work options.
    • Employers might, for instance, permit working mothers to work from home or provide part-time employment opportunities. By enhancing employee satisfaction and decreasing turnover, these options also benefit the employer.
  • The provision of accessible and reasonably priced childcare services is another policy change that can increase women’s access to leisure time.
    • Women would be able to pursue their careers and leisure pursuits without having to give up either if there were access to high-quality and dependable childcare services.
    • Putting money into onsite childcare services can help working women feel less responsible for running the home, freeing up time for leisure.

Government’s role:

  • Governments can promote the division of household duties between men and women. Women frequently shoulder the majority of domestic duties, which results in time shortages and limited free time.
  • Men need to be encouraged and supported to share equally in household duties, which calls for the development of policies aimed at promoting gender equality.Paternity leave is one such policy that may encourage fathers to assume more responsibility for the upbringing of their children.

Conclusion:

  • Discussions of work and labour force participation frequently overlook leisure time, which is an important aspect of human life. Working women struggle greatly to balance work and home responsibilities, which leaves little time for leisure.
  • This issue can be resolved by implementing policy changes that support gender equality at the household level, flexible work schedules, and easily accessible childcare.
  • Policymakers can enhance the well-being of people, families, and the economy by acknowledging the value of leisure time in people’s lives and the need for more leisure time for working women.
  • India needs to make investments in policies that allow everyone to have leisure time and space, especially those who have excessive demands placed on their time.
  • By doing this, it can produce a more just and healthy society that encourages everyone’s wellbeing and happiness.

February 2024
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