Should Women be Paid for Domestic Work?

By Priyanka Saurabh  

A report published in 2018 by the International Labor Organization shows that, globally, women make up 76.2% of the total hours of home care work, three times more than men. In Asia and the Pacific, this figure rises to 80%. The women’s movement in North America and Europe has raised wage demands for homework. Along with other demands for social and political equality, women’s rights campaigners have now campaigned for the legally demanding work of home women and everyday tasks of childcare. In doing so, she challenged the notion that homework was rooted in the essential nature of women.For pioneering women rights activists of the 1960s and 1970s, it was important to break the myth that women’s work at home was an unconditional personal service of capitalist production. Women’s cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing The labor force on clothes, lunch boxes is equal to the daily consumption in a shop or assembly line. By providing free services at home, women were prevented from seeing what they saw as ‘real work’ or social contract. Our society has quietly decided that domestic chores belong to the field of women’s responsibilities and activities. It has also determined that this work will not bear any economic value. But why should this happen?

Why should domestic work and farm labor done by women not be accepted in India’s socio-economic policy framework? The government is making gender discrimination by not measuring the role of women in making the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The Census of India places household chores in a non-working population with beggars and students. The number of non-working population in the census 2011 was 728.9 million. The official definition states that these are people who did not work of any nature in any time period. Of these 165.6 million people were the main “discharge of domestic responsibilities”, they are mostly 96.5 percent or 159.9 million women.

There is a clear and present need to recognize this work, but also to redistribute it. Household duties should be shared among members of a family. The study, published in 2011 in the journal Mountain Research and Development, entitled “Women in the Contribution to Household Food and Economic Security, reported that women in the mountain region” did no work “. However, when analyzing their activities, it was observed that when the men of the area worked an average of nine hours, the women worked for 16 hours.

There is a discussion among women thinkers as to what the pay of women will actually be. Sociologist Ann Oakley, who studied the history of homework in her path-breaking books published in the 1970s, said that ‘wages for the home’ only imprisons women within the home, increasing their social isolation. The goal of the women’s movement should not be to ask for wages, but to keep women away from regular household chores and to enable them to participate fully in all spheres of social life, including paid employment outside the home.

The debate over monetary remuneration for homework has remained unresolved within the women’s movement, with tools for measuring the value attaching women’s unpaid work in national economies become more sophisticated. These tasks that are part of the responsibility of women that maintain human life and reproduce the labor force are suppressed as usual. It is noteworthy that an important campaign is going on in India on the question of domestic labor. These are mainly women who do ‘women’s work’, but in other people’s homes. They demand that their conditions be defined, the minimum wage guaranteed, and the status and rights of workers protected. The demand for homework to be recognized by the state is important.

The question of how and how to measure the value of house tax has received serious attention from women domestic workers and their trade unions in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere. Their demands include an hourly minimum wage, a weekly day off, an annual bonus, and protection of their physical autonomy in the workplace. This is an agenda that all parties can and cannot just include in their election manifesto, but can strengthen them politically by recognizing them and taking the mandate of homework seriously.

If domestic workers emerge as a strong force, succeed in finding the dignity of homework, making it a valuable form of labor, it can be a good thing for all women who have done long-term homework.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer  

  • The author is a research scholar, poetess and a freelance journalist 

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