Women’s News: Flexible Work Is Healthy, Studies Show

Women’s News: Flexible Work Is Healthy, Studies Show

Women’s News: No Matter Who They Are, No Matter Where They Live

Women’s News: No Matter Who They Are, No Matter Where They Live

A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

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Women’s News: No Matter Who They Are, No Matter Where They Live

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Latanya Mapp Frett

Vice President – Global, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

As Black History Month draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his lifelong quest for justice and equality for black people in America. The part of his “I Have a Dream” speech that moves me the most is the section in which he said:

 

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

 

In each of the 10 countries where I have lived and worked, I could easily replace the word “Negro” with any marginalized population, especially women or girls. From South Africa to Eritrea to Pakistan, my work has introduced me again and again to fearless mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters who defy the status quo and insist on freedoms inherent in them.

As a women’s health and rights advocate, I wonder what Dr. King would make of the current status of women around the world. Dr. King was a fierce advocate for family planning and access to contraception. He believed empowering women to be central to advancing civil rights in this country and around the world. I imagine he would be proud of the progress we have made in ensuring access to contraception for American women and their families, yet disheartened by the persistent disparities faced by poor people and people of color in this country. We need only to look at health statistics for women in the southern United States to ponder how far we have really come.

African-Americans face numerous obstacles to obtaining affordable, high-quality health care services. We experience higher rates of reproductive cancers, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections than most other groups of Americans. Among women diagnosed with breast cancer, for example, African-American women are most likely to die from the disease, and African-American women with cervical cancer are twice as likely to lose their lives to this disease as are white women. Early detection and treatment of these diseases saves lives. We must do more to ensure that all women have access to regular exams and health screenings to rule out or detect life-threatening diseases such as breast and cervical cancers and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Likewise, while we have made global progress in improving the lives of women and girls, protests across India last month following the death of a women brutally raped on her way home from the movies, are just one indicator of the overwhelming distance we have yet to go in the fight to end violence against women. I believe Dr. King would be discouraged by the obstacles that remain in the way of justice around the world, but would also find hope in women taking to the streets in India, and the men who have joined them. He fought for human rights and dedicated his life to protecting and promoting the rights of every single person, no matter who they were or where they lived. The best way to celebrate his memory is in carrying on this cause.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

That sentiment is at the heart of what drives me personally to work internationally; and why I am proud to work for an organization dedicated to ensuring that women and men in the African-American community have access to a wide range of preventive health care services. During Black History Month and beyond we will continue to work tirelessly for a health care system that provides affordable, high-quality care and treats all people with dignity — no matter who they are, no matter where they live.

Read More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/latanya-mapp-frett/no-matter-who-they-are-no_b_2760732.html?utm_hp_ref=womens-health

Women’s News: Flexible Work Is Healthy, Studies Show

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The Huffington Post  |  By 

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!, enacted a policy this week that requires previously remote workers to now spend their days in-office and bars employees from using flexible work hours.

“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side … That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices,” read the memo written by head of HR Jackie Reses and obtained by AllThingsD. “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”

Employees and the general public alike were dismayed by the news — particularly as many companies move toward more flexible work hours, influenced by reports that a looser work schedule is healthy for workers — and for the bottom line. Even the White House has compiled a comprehensive report, extolling the attributes to wellbeing of flexible work policies.

It should come as no surprise that Mayer, known for her hard-charging work ethicand two-week maternity leave, would prefer an all in-house staff. But are flex hours merely a luxurious refuge for the underperforming or, in the current work culture, a necessity for many in the workforce?

Research on employees who use flexible hours and work from home points toward the latter. Studies regularly show that employees who are given some choice as to their schedule and location of work report better self-care behaviors like increased exercise and regular doctors’ visits, better sleep habits, less stress, less depression and less work-life conflict.

A 2010 Cochrane research review looked at the results of 10 studies evaluating more than 16,000 people. They found that self-scheduling work time improved a variety of health metrics, including reduced exhaustion, improved sleep (both duration and quality), lowered blood pressure, improved mental health and better self-rated health status. The distinction of self-scheduled, meaning the choice belongs to the employee, is important to note: As the authors wrote in their report, “In contrast, interventions that were motivated or dictated by organizational interests, such as fixed-term contract and involuntary part-time employment, found equivocal or negative health effects.”

“Flexible working seems to be more beneficial for health and wellbeing where the individuals control their own work patterns, rather than where employers are in control,” review author Clare Bambra, of the Wolfson Research Institute at Durham Univerisy in the UK, said in a statement. “Given the limited evidence base, we wouldn’t want to make any hard and fast recommendations, but these findings certainly give employers and employees something to think about.”

One well-known study looked deeper into the health impact of flexible work environment by following 608 white-collar workers at the headquarters of Best Buy before and after a flexible “Results Only Work Environment” policy was implemented. The researchers found that, on average, employees got one additional hour of sleep per work night after flex-hours were implemented and were more likely to exercise. They were more apt to go to the doctor when they needed to and were less likely to go into the office when contagious. From a mental health standpoint, the subjects reported that they felt “greater mastery” of their time, had fewer work-life conflicts and, as a result, felt increased energy, less stress and a self-reported sense of well-being.

“Flex time is a way to get control over work. We can’t reduce the overload of tasks, but flexible schedules make it a bit more manageable,” co-author of the Best Buy study, Phyllis Moen, Ph.D., McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair of Sociology at the University of Minnesota tells HuffPost. “We’re expected to work smarter, do more with less and with fewer people. And what has enabled workers to continue to work with this level of intensity is often that they now arrange when they work.”

“And yet I can’t imagine [Mayer] will tamp down on the intensity of work,” Moen adds. “What she’s asking for isn’t just a relocation shift — she’s ratching up time pressures when you want to be more flexible. Time pressure has a negative effect on people who are going to be expected to work long hours.”

Further, many of the employees affected by Mayer’s new policy are already accustomed to working on their own schedule and in their own environment. What will happen to the health of workers who have grown accustomed to flexible work hours and must now return to their office desks full time?

“We have no studies looking at what happens when you take it away, but the assumption would be that it would have negative effects,” says Moen. “It will mean a lack of control — and feeling a lack of control over one’s life is associated with greater psychological stress.”

Read More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/25/flexible-work-healthy-marissa-mayer-yahoo_n_2761872.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

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