All are born free and equal, is a belief that often stays mum in the text books and after debates. In reality, practicing the same is quite difficult in day to day lives. The patriarchy existing in the society always positions women next to men, and considered weak. They are seen as someone who needs to be protected, and whose parents’ main goal is to get her a groom and get her wedded as soon as she reaches the marriageable age. Some of the common examples are experienced in every day’s work. Often a girl’s brother, father or elderly male person will be asked to escort her. She will be asked to not to stay late outside or wear anything that is fashionable as all of this may incite someone’s sexuality and provoke him to lay hands on her security. Women have always been considered as the second sex.
In the country, where Goddesses are revered for their power and justice, their humanly incarnations (girls or women) often face injustice. Though times are changing now, yet a lot of societies across our country and globe needs to give it a meticulous look. As always, we celebrate the Human Rights Day, and use the slogan for this day every now and then, yet we fail to implement. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights diverse faces: "Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world.Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world,"said Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the leaders who played an integral role in the drafting committee of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as its Chairman.
Every year, Human Rights Day is observed 10 December. The significance of the day is that the UN General Assembly has adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in 1948. 2018 Human Rights Day marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being, regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Did you know? It is the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages.
Well, on this occasion, Team Saturday Fare takes an opportunity to explore which aspects related to women’s welfare need to be addressed. Women, often note the welfare and happiness of their family members. Be it a butter tossed parantha; getting the child ready early in the morning; going far to fetch water and grocery to be able to serve the family or something else, the happiness of the family comes with a lot of fulfilled necessities and demands. She caters to that selflessly, and often ignoring her health symptoms too.
As per Dr Geeta Dutta,emphasized on getting women develop a habit of healthy eating. Healthy eating means adequate food on adequate time,with adequate nutrients in it. Healthy eating also involves healthy cooking methods, which doesn't destroy the inherent nutrients in the process.
Our first take on women’s rights to stay healthy.We asked Dr. Parinita Kaur, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Aakash Healthcare - Super Specialty Hospital, about general yet important medical symptoms women should not ignore. She said, “General weakness is the most common symptom we encounter. It could mean anything from a nutritional deficiency to chronic infections, anaemia, cardiac disease, malignancy to even psychological disorders like Depression. Other common symptoms and signs to watch out for are prolonged fever, menstrual irregularities, post-menopausal or post coital bleeding, new onset headaches, any swelling or lumps on the body, etc.”
Did you know? High blood glucose or blood sugar can also be indicative of diabetes. CVD accounts for the major deaths in people who have diabetes. Here goes the clue: if it is left undiagnosed and untreated, it can put you at increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
We checked with Dr. Parvatagouda C, Consultant, Cardiology & Cardiac Surgery, Aakash Healthcare Super Specialty Hospitalabout the factors that can possibly lead to heart problems, and she mentioned about these: Physical inactivity; Unhealthy dietary pattern; Overweight and obesity; Smoking & Tobacco use; High blood cholesterol; High blood pressure; and Diabetes mellitus. And the early signs of heart risks are: chest pain on exertion; breathlessness on exertion; easy fatigue-ability & weakness; and palpitations.
Stress is one of the major causes of heart risks, especially in women. Fast paced life has some benefits and many demerits as well. We spend nearly one-third of our time working in the office, home or somewhere else. Working tirelessly, causes exhaustion and stress.Ms. Pritika Singh, CEO and Planning and Strategy, Director of Prayag Hospital, talked about how stress impacts a woman's health. “According to many studies women differ from men not only in their emotional responses to stress, but also in their physical and mental health, particularly their acute and chronic stress may take a greater toll. Women may face many problems due to stress that includes irregular periods, acne breakouts, hair loss, poor digestion, depression, insomnia, weight gain, and many more.” On these lines, Dr. Ranjana Sharma, Senior Consultant, Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, said that if stress in pregnant women can lead to the birth of an abnormal child or cause problems in delivery.
Next comes the right to stay free from menstrual taboos, and ensuring menstrual hygiene.
Dr. Rita Bakshi, Senior Gynaecologist and Founder, International Fertility Centre for Human Rights Day 2018, talked about fighting Menstruation Taboos. “A developing country like India, even in the 21st century is fighting menstruation taboos because of the bleak yet conservative mentality of the people of the country. The inconsideration, insensitivity and callous intent towards menstruation still conquers the society which is why there is still a large women population that is outliving yet persevering in the shackles of the menstruation taboos. There are several magnanimous personalities with exalted thoughts that are working relentlessly for fighting menstruation prohibitions in the country, enlightening the lives of the young children at school level with hopes for their brighter future and developing an acceptance towards these natural processes. However, the situation is changing, but traditions like refrainment from going to the temple, kitchen and touching various objects still exists. Menstruation is a natural process that is inevitable in any woman’s life, a process that helps in inception of offspring. But this essential life process needs a change of perception to embrace the bliss of womanhood.
On these lines, Ms. Vrutika Dawda, Director, IdeateLabs said, “Surrounded by numerous myths and taboos, menstruation is a tricky topic to broach in India even in this scientifically and technologically advanced era.Numerous women in the country are still oblivious about menstrual hygiene and do not have access to toilets during their periods, let alone sanitary products. This forces girls to drop out of school and women to skip opportunities to work or pursue further education. Perhaps, this is one of the prime reasons for a decline in female participation in the labour force. However, I believe it is high time we build awareness around sanitation, menstrual hygiene and women’s reproductive health with the help of powerful media like the ever-evolving digital platforms.”
Taking this discussion forward, we asked Dr. Bakshi about the disadvantages of the use of unhygienic clothes, as a lot of women also don’t use sanitary napkins during their menstruation days. “Most women in rural areas spend most of the money in buying sarees and bangles but still think that buying a sanitary napkin is something which is not really required. Women in rural areas, in today’s times also use soil and ash during their days of menstruation which is even more agonizing and dreadful. It is very important for them to understand that deviations for sanitary napkins like cloth and ash can easily bog down and are unhealthy for the vagina. It is important to realise that there are number of germs and infections that these alternatives carry, which can be tumorous and cancerous.”
She further added about having women-friendly toilets. What facilities should it have? “The women friendly toilets must be easily accessed and afforded by women (in cases where maintenance charges are required). It must have a provision of a women care taker and restrict loitering of men around it as this eventually leads to increased rapes and malpractices in and around the toilet. Along with this, it must cater to menstrual hygiene management with access to sanitary pads, clean water and hygienic toilets for prevention from various threats of diseases.”
Ms. Lina Ashar, Founder of Kangaroo Kids Education Ltd.added, “the schools can opt to provide sanitary napkins through vending machines; they should also provide medical assistance and counselling sessions to cope with the monthly cycle.”
We’re not done here. Did you know that climate change has negative and grave impacts on women’s health? UN figures reveal that 80% of people displaced by climate change are women. We’ll get to know furthermore, how women get impact through some interactions. We asked Dr. Walia Murshida Huda, Sr. Medical Officer, Healthians, How climate change is affecting the women residing in the urban areas?No one has been spared from problems caused due to climatic changes. Various studies have shown that women are much more sensitive to climatic changes. Some of the major effects of climatic changes on urban women are:
* Suffering from various deficiencies like, vitamin deficiencies, calcium deficiencies, anaemia, and iodine deficiency as triggered by sudden like cold and extreme hot temperature, which make it difficult to handle.The hot temperature can cause weakness, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance. Kids are more sensitive to these changes. This adds on to botheration, effort, and worry, especially for mothers, making it difficult for them to handle.Air pollutants can cause several respiratory problems like pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, lung problems, etc. in addition to affecting the foetal growth and exposing both the mother and child to health issues.Most of the women residing in urban areas are juggling between work, families and their personal lives, which often leads to ignorance about their nutritional intake. This makes them more susceptible to health problems.. And the list goes on.”
Then we asked Dr. Huda further about the measures that every woman should do in her daily life to combat the effects of climate change impacts?
Women should take care of their nutritional intake and ensure a balanced diet as it can help fight infections and health threats posed by the climatic changes.Proper management of resources at home and our locality can bring a lot of relief. Proper and regular health check-upshelp a great deal.
Ms Dawda said, “ I cannot emphasize enough on the importance of education, especially for a girl child. Being literate does not only enhance a woman’s problem-solving skills, but also moulds her to become a risk-taker, face the world with undeterred confidence, be a trail-blazer and an inspiration to upcoming generations. It enables women to break that glass ceiling, explore, and pursue their passion.There is an African proverb that I strongly believe in, “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation).” A word of advice to parents and their beautiful daughters; sow the seed of education and you will reap strong daughters in the form of challengers, explorers, dreamers, and achievers.” We cannot deny, but agree with her because what majorly hinders the growth of a woman is the stereotypes and myths surrounding her life.
Breaking stereotypes is every woman’s right. She said, “Women were and still are looked upon as the weaker sex. Even though times are changing, somewhere, some things stop you from moving forward. But, it’s time to break-free of those socially-induced insecurities and just go for it! The first step towards success begins by inducing self-belief and overlooking all kinds of stereotypes that pose as growth barriers. It is time you find your voice and own it. Know what you want and deserve. As the Director of a digital communication company, I have learnt to take up responsibilities and tackle all levels of challenges, only by instilling the power of self-belief. It is a small, yet effective step. Adopt this mind-set and the world will watch you soar to unimaginable heights. On these lines, Vasavi Acharya, Early childhood Educationist, MD Tender Petals, and Director DNA foundation for children and women welfare said, “Breaking stereotypes is easier said then done. In today's date, when most of the households are run jointly by the earnings of both the husband and wife, the sharing of household chores between them is a rarity. The women are the major multi-tasker who juggles and trues to maintain a work life balance, while the male counterpart only concentrates in one aspect, the financials. It is high time the stereotypes attached to the sexes, are erased and traditional rule books, done away with. The basic rights of women are to be upheld which include parity in pay scale, equal treatment at workspace, and at the home front, besides the other basic laws any woman is eligible to enjoy.”
She further added that tough the new generation is made aware of rights of women so that boys don’t look down upon them and make them feel inferior self, mind-sets are to be targeted, as they need change. And, this won’t work without the support of policy makers and government. If one part of the population is dominated and not allowed to flourish, when would humanity see the light of the day."
On these lines, Dr Geeta Baruah Nath, Head of Deptt., Gynaecology, Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon, emphasized on moral values too, “Parents play a big role in raising the male and girl child equally, and in teaching good values from the childhood, such as respecting women and social norms, and about bad touch; not to indulge in drugs or alcohol, which in a way catalyzes violence and promote rape. Finally, education in all sections of the society to enhance mental health is the key to prevent violence and rape for which we all must come together.”
Above all, for these rights to be implemented, what needs to be looked at is the “Right to be born.” In 2011, India’s child sex ratio was at 914 girls (1000 boys), which is the lowest since the country’s Independence with Haryana’s a child sex ratio 834 girls to 1000 boys, far worse than the national average. According to 2001 Census, in Punjab, the sex ratio (zero-six age group) declined from 875 to 793 (-82 points), in Haryana the decrease was from 879 to 820 (-59 points); in Himachal Pradesh this decrease was from 951 to 897 (-54 points); in Gujarat, it was from 928 to 878 (-50 points); in Chandigarh the reduction was from 899 to 845 (-54 points); and in Delhi from 915 to 865 (-50 points).
We checked with Dr. Bakshi about three effective measures to stop female infanticide and foeticide. “a) Making the people get over their societal notions, grave thoughts and stereotypical mentality of seeing the girl child as a burden.
- b) The sex determination and the involvement of the doctors should be completely done away with from the root level, which is usually in return of hefty payments.
- c) The government should deliver incentives and monetary remunerations to families that have more than one girl child.”
In this context, Ms. Ashar also shared, “In my opinion, we as a nation need to educate every strata of society on gender equality and really have people working at the grass root level to enforce this. Also, our textbooks in schools need to address the topic of gender stereotypes and how to break them.” She also supports the motives of putting an end to domestic violence on girls and women, expressed, “Parents should encourage their daughters to become financially independent. We also need to have stringent laws against domestic violence and educating people at the grass root level about domestic violence and the repercussions.”She went on to mention that for her “health is about both, physical and mental health both”.
This is true, every woman should have the rights to be herself, with utter freedom, education, safety, and healthily.