By Aashish Mishra
Kathmandu, Aug. 6: As suggested by the findings of the Nepal Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (NMICS) 2019, women are less happy with their lives than men.
The survey, conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics, found that 62.4 per cent of women aged between 15 to 49 years were happy with their lives compared to 64.7 per cent of men of the same age group.
The difference is even greater when talking about hope for improvement. A total of 45.4 per cent of women in the age group expected that their life would get better by the end of 2020. This number was 52.5 per cent for men.
These numbers do not surprise psychologist Kusum Baral. According to her, this ‘happiness gap’ is not unique to Nepal, and women in many developed and developing countries feel the same way.
“Women have a heavier workload than men,” she said. “Women, especially the working women, have to keep up with their duties at the office but also carry the household chores with little to no help from men.”
She elaborated with her own example, “I have to wake up early in the morning, prepare breakfast for my children and husband, send them to school and office, do the dishes, get myself ready for office and be here from 10 to 6, go back home, cook, feed, and put the kids to bed.”
A woman’s day is much more tiring than a man’s, and she has little time for leisure or fun, which ultimately makes her less happy.
Baral also thought that the professional environment could be making women unhappy. “The wage gap between male and female workers in many sectors is very well known. In addition to that, women are also overlooked during promotions and they have a harder time getting their opinions across.”
“In Nepali society, women may also have to quit their jobs after pregnancies,” she said, adding, “Pregnancies themselves are dictated more by the desires of the family than the women themselves.”
Baral acknowledged that progress had been made but pointed out that societal structures had not kept pace. Women now see discrimination, understand oppression and are more clearly aware of the problems than their mothers or grandmothers. But they still only have limited options to try to solve them and are still largely told to keep quiet and accept things because “that is just how the system is,” she said.
Dr. Rishav Koirala, consultant psychiatrist at Grande International Hospital, also pointed to similar issues and added that women were more affected by domestic violence than men. “This strains their mental health and makes them vulnerable to developing psychological issues.”
However, both Baral and Koirala said that there were no concrete studies on the matter in Nepal and that the issue should be further explored.