Indian women face a unique and significant challenge when it comes to self-care. Studies and anecdotal evidence reveal a stark reality: they consistently prioritize the needs of others over their own, falling short in dedicating time and resources to their physical and mental well-being. This article explores the complex reasons behind this disparity and offers ways to address it, both through individual efforts and societal shifts.

A Story of Self-Sacrifice and Neglect

Prema C., a resident of Chennai, embodies the widespread issue. At 80, she navigates life with chronic health issues stemming from generations of neglect. While sacrificing her own well-being, she diligently fulfilled her familial duties, placing her needs last. This pattern, unfortunately, isn’t uncommon. Her daughter, Shenba, shares a similar struggle. Growing up, she witnessed a lack of self-care not just from her mother but also from all the women in her family. This instilled a belief that women are the last ones to be cared for, often neglecting their own health and happiness.

The Numbers Tell the Story

A recent survey by India Spend reveals the magnitude of the problem: Indian women spend 82 fewer minutes on themselves compared to married men daily. Additionally, they dedicate a staggering 85 hours per week to unpaid domestic work and caregiving compared to men’s five. These statistics highlight the unequal distribution of responsibilities and the societal expectation for women to prioritize others over themselves.

Roots of the Problem

Experts attribute this self-care deficit to a combination of **cultural, psychological, and patriarchal factors

  • Cultural conditioning: Generational patterns of self-sacrifice and prioritizing others are deeply ingrained in Indian culture. Girls are often raised observing these behaviors, reinforcing the belief that their needs come last.
  • Psychological factors: Fear of judgement, guilt, and societal pressure can deter women from prioritizing their own well-being. Additionally, internalized expectations around selflessness can make it difficult for them to justify self-care.
  • Patriarchal structures: Traditional gender roles often assign the responsibility of household and caregiving to women, limiting their access to resources and time for self-care.

Breaking the Cycle: Individual and Collective Efforts

While the challenges are substantial, there are pathways towards a shift:

  • Individual efforts: Women can prioritize their well-being by setting boundaries, seeking support from loved ones, and exploring activities that nurture their physical and mental health. Shenba’s story serves as an example; by prioritizing self-care through yoga, therapy, and hobbies, she demonstrates how to break free from the cycle of neglect.
  • Addressing the cultural narrative: Open conversations about the importance of self-care for women are crucial. Challenging traditional beliefs and promoting self-love through targeted campaigns and initiatives can create a more supportive environment.
  • Empowerment through education: Educating women about their rights and the importance of self-care can empower them to make informed choices regarding their health and well-being.
  • Addressing gender inequality: Dismantling patriarchal structures and advocating for equal distribution of domestic responsibilities can create more time and space for women to prioritize self-care.

The Way Forward

Addressing the self-care deficit of Indian women requires a multi-pronged approach. By combining individual efforts with societal changes, we can create an environment where women feel empowered and equipped to prioritize their well-being, paving the way for a healthier and happier future for themselves and generations to come.


Rishi Malhotra, an adept editor at Atom News, specializes in travel and cultural affairs. With a global perspective and a flair for storytelling, Malhotra brings diverse perspectives to our readers, making Atom News a go-to source for enriching travel narratives.