Industry Leaders Take Stock of Measures for Women Health and Well-being and COVID-19 Impact

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, 2021 Industry Leaders were seen taking measures on women healthcare, safety and hygiene. some of these were as follows.

●       Ground-level measures such as anganwadi workers trained for visual inspection of cervical cancer helped to reduce mortality by 20-30 per cent, according to a 1998 study.

●       60 per cent of women have been pushed to poverty and unemployment due to the pandemic and women are 20 per cent more likely to become unemployed than men.

●       The concept of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in the corporate organizations have helped improve the working conditions for women in the past decade, they observed.

●       Healthcare leaders hoped a substantial part of the allocations for Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana announced during the Union Budget last month is allocated for women’s health issues.

●       They reiterated men and women are equal but different, and women’s health is the nation’s wealth and must be addressed in a manner India responded to COVID-19 pandemic.

●       Health issues like widespread prevalence of anemia and late detection of cancer show how women’s health is neglected and forgotten in India.

New Delhi, 9th March 2021: Women leaders representing doctors and corporates advocated that women must look after herself before noting what others need at the summit titled Women’s Health Matters by the Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council.

“A 1998 study of anganwadi workers who were trained for visual inspection of cervical cancer helped to reduce mortality by 20-30 per cent. It shows how early detection of cervical cancer can greatly impact the outcome, as much as prevention. It is very important to have a healthy lifestyle to prevent cervical – no tobacco, no alcohol, exercise at least 3 days a week and lots of fiber in your diet can help,” says Dr Seema Gulia, Professor and Consultant, Department of Medical Oncology, Tata Memorial Centre.

Discussing some of the measures taken by them to safeguard the interest of women employees, Ms Amarpreet Kaur Ahuja, Country Head – HR, India, AstraZeneca says, “The share of women employees in many sectors is 30 per cent or so and in some sectors, it is as low as 10 to 15 per cent – we have not been able to create enabling conditions for her there. The idea of introducing the concept of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in the corporate organizations have helped us improve the working conditions for women in the past decade. During the past one year, we wanted to hold tight of our womenfolk and make sure they have access to all information on wellbeing. These crucial sessions were well-attended by the women employees as well as the community at large to make women’s wellbeing a top priority because if they look after themselves, productivity, work, delivery – all of them will happen automatically.”

Healthcare leaders at the summit hoped that a substantial part of the allocations for Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, announced during the Union Budget last month, is allocated for women’s health issues and underscored the need to change how women are perceived by the society to make sure they are healthy.

Noting that gender discrimination is a critical component that impacts women’s health Dr Nandita Palshetkar, Director, Bloom IVF Centers, says “COVID has hit the women badly – 60 per cent of them have been pushed to poverty and unemployment due to the pandemic and she is 20 per cent more likely to become unemployed than men. We launched a campaign to make women safer from the violence and abuses, smarter in terms of her reproductive choices and stronger by focusing on wellness and mental wellbeing. We definitely need more women-centric policies. We have been focusing a lot on maternal mortality in the past, but the government is now looking at it more holistically, which is a welcome change, and I hope they will prioritize women’s health under the allocations for Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana.”

“As a gynecologist, I have been listening for 4 decades that women need not die during childbirth. It is sad that not much has changed in the past 4 decades. I would like to rechristen the title from women health matters to women matter – that’s the change we need in society’s attitude towards women. Men and women are equal but different, and women’s health is the nation’s wealth. Universal healthcare is a distant dream but technology is helping us in leapfrogging to reach the rural women but we have to be consistent and persistent, just the way India did to respond to COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr Hema Divakar, CEO, Asian Research and Training Institute for Skill Transfer (ARTIST), and member of IHW Council’s Apex Advisory Body.

“There are few pillars of health and wellness that a woman should follow. These are good nutrition; doing exercise or yoga; visiting a doctor regularly and taking the required health tests at least once a year; maintaining emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and financial health. Yoga and pranayama helped me a lot during COVID-19 period last year. I say to women, keep your family along with you but look after yourself first,” says Dr. Blossom Kochhar, Founder and Chairperson, Blossom Kochhar Group of Companies.

Ms Nikky Gupta, Co-Founder & CEO, Teamwork Communications Group and a mother of two, says, “Women are stared at for breastfeeding their children in public which shows the society’s attitude. Women must understand that they need to empower themselves because the kids will learn from her. So, if a mother eats well and follows her medical checkup routine, her daughter will automatically learn the importance of such acts. Take your own decisions and do not rely on your family members for that. Awareness is also important which is why we continued to campaign on women health matters such as breast cancer even during the pandemic which has been widely recognized.”

“Women health matters because the health and well-being and families and communities depend on it. Health issues like widespread prevalence of anemia and late detection of cancer show how women’s health is neglected and forgotten in India. And over the centuries, that neglect has become so systemic that no one raises an eyebrow when they eat after everyone is done, nobody cares to peep into her plate to see whether she is eating enough, and nobody cares to ask her in the morning if she is okay. As India works to become a superpower, it will not be hyperbolic to say that we are running out of fuel — half of India’s workforce is not healthy enough to live a productive life. IHW Council has initiated ‘Shapath’ as a public movement to hasten resolving women health woes in India,” says Mr. Kamal Narayan, CEO, Integrated Health and Wellbeing Council (IHW).

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