Burden of Domestic Responsibilities and its Impact on Women’s Health

In rural India, most of the domestic responsibilities are taken care by women. There is some literature looking at this issue from human rights and economics angles. But there is some gap in the understanding of the health impact due to significant drudgery especially in the rural areas of India. This report, developed through various investigation, gives a brief understanding this problem from grass root level and possible solution thereof.
The report brings the realities regarding different types of physical activities women have to do towards their domestic responsibilities, durations and frequencies of these activities and their perceptions of such activities. It also covers the type of drudgery like lifting and carrying headload etc. This information is compiled through an exploratory study which was done in two villages of Maharashtra. The exploratory study found a significant time up to 16 hours a day is spent only on the domestic work including lifting weights and carrying headloads. Much of the work was due to lack of access to basic amenities at the household level. The research also included a survey to quantify the hardship resulted due to the drudgery and to measure the health impacts of such strenuous physical activities like headload carrying. Data was collected from 565 women in 13 villages around Udaipur in Rajasthan and 100 women in two villages of West Bengal. The survey¬† among the women tried to find the time spent on various physical activities, durations of such physical activities and reported health issues. It was revealed that even without any external employment, women have to work on an average for 11 hours and of them at least four hours spent on strenuous work. Such work pressure also reduces quality time for rest. There is a significant burden of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) and most of the cases without proper medical attention. Among the elderly women, disability and dysfunctionality were high due to neglected chronic MSDs. Apart from the exploratory and quantitative study, the report also brings the in-depth understanding of this issue through a multi-location characterization study, focusing on the role of geography and culture on women’s drudgery. It was noticed that geography has a major role in shaping the daily physical activities of rural women towards their family responsibilities. The findings across various terrains were unique in terms of the domestic responsibilities and its impact on health of women. There is a difference in the typology of strenuous physical activities and reasons for that across the geographies. Each type of terrain offers particular challenges for women to meet their daily ends. This study tried to capture these factors in five different terrains across India and examined how these factors affect health of the
women.

Full Report