Understanding Health Exposures and Vulnerabilities of Women Workers and their Work Changes

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Abstract

The paper looks at employment shifts of women construction and domestic workers and explores whether social and economic factors as well as processes are adequate in explaining and understanding the reason of health for work changes. It uses the gender model of social determinants of health to explore how women workers differed on the basis of exposures. This paper uses the case studies data of 33 respondents who were purposively selected on the basis of reasons cited for work change from a larger survey sample. The study was conducted in slums of Cuttack city, in Odisha state of India from June 2014 to February 2015.It was found that women’s health exposures were psychosocial and physical in form, wherein both affected each other. Exposures occurred on a daily as well as episode basis. Structural and community level factors of women’s work, living and diet conditions, access of health care and family support were found crucial for her health besides the individual level wherein her predisposition and age factor mattered. Class, gender, age, family support and state support were the reasons of differential experiences of exposures to conditions and vulnerabilities that affected women’s health. Gendered social determinants of health (SDH) along with life course approach helps understand accumulation of health risks over time through the exposures and vulnerabilities as lack of time for recovery, lack of compensation during work loss and challenges of accessing health care invariably led to accumulation of health issues.

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