International Women’s Day Lecture “Women Health: It Takes Two to Tango”

As part of the International Women’s Day celebrated on 8 March every year, CSIR-NISCAIR (National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources) and CSIR-NISTADS (National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies), New Delhi, jointly organised a lecture on “Women Health: It Takes Two to Tango” on 5 March 2020. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day was, “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”.

    To mark the occasion, Dr Uma Kumar, Professor & Head of the Department of Rheumatology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, delivered a talk on Rheumatology wherein she discussed various aspects of day-to-day activities having an impact on the body. Recently on National Science Day, Dr Uma Kumar received the National Award by the Honourable President of India, Ramnath Kovind, for her outstanding efforts in Science & Technology Communication in the Electronic Medium. Dr Uma has carved an indelible mark in the field of popularising medical science among people via electronic media with more than 100 health programmes on national TV channels and radio, articles in newspapers and magazines and booklets in English & Hindi.

  The event was presided by Dr Ranjana Aggarwal, Director, CSIR-NISCAIR and CSIR-NISTADS.

     Remembering the quote by Swami Vivekananda — "There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved; it is not possible for a bird to fly with one wing," Dr Ranjana Aggarwal briefly highlighted the position of women from the Vedic period to today’s scenario and said that the rationale of gender equality “he is equal to she” has been put in our philosophy. It’s our role to make the society gender sensitised where women get equal opportunities in all aspects, she added. Further, she said that we want a space in the healthcare services where the needs of women are specified and addressed separately.

     In her lecture, Dr Uma Kumar said that there is only 15 per cent women representation in science today and we need to go a long way before we balance out. During her presentation on Musculoskeletal Disorders, the second most common cause of disability, she mentioned that we all spend more time in offices and how we sit, how we work, etc. decide our muscular health. She also discussed various musculoskeletal injuries at the workplace. “To have a good quality of life, we need to keep our musculoskeletal system strong,” she emphasised. Further, highlighting the common problem of joint pain, she said that musculoskeletal illnesses are not confined to only elderly people, they can even happen in newborn, small children and serious kinds of musculoskeletal problems may also affect the economically and reproductively productive age group.

      Throwing light on today’s sedentary lifestyle she discussed the role of physical activities and right postures and said that muscles have to be used but not abused. Mentioning the prevention measures, she said there is a need to have a balance between activity and rest; maintain the right posture; wear the right footwear and remember that not every muscle can adapt to change in the same way. She also suggested to have a healthy eating plate with a balanced nutritious diet. 

     Dr Kumar also talked about autoimmune diseases where she explained how the immune system mistakenly attacks its own body tissues and treats them as foreign. She talked about certain factors that may trigger autoimmune diseases including gene, autoantibody, environment, air pollution, smoking and infections. She also briefed about certain ill effects of autoimmune diseases which may lead to some serious problems like abortion in women or still childbirth. Further, she also discussed why women are more affected by autoimmune diseases. 

      Finally, she outlined a few precautionary measures to stay healthy like eat healthy, remain physically active, never self-investigate, never self-medicate, never abuse your joints, stay positive, etc. She concluded her lecture saying, “It is said that girls with dreams become women with vision. May we empower each other to carry out such a vision — because it isn’t enough to simply talk of equality. One must believe in it. One must work at it. Let us work at it together starting now.”

      The lecture was followed by an interactive session. Dr Y. Madhavi, Senior Principal Scientist, CSIR-NISTADS, proposed the vote of thanks.