The write-up, “Should housewives be compensated for housework?” (September 21, 2023) was an eye-opener and emphasizes the fact that housewives are no less equal when compared with the male working members in families.
From household chores to planning family events, homemakers have multifarious skills that many earning male members cannot match. In fact, years ago the Supreme Court objected to the census, listing homemakers as ‘non-workers’, and called for laws to quantify their contribution to the economy. A woman’s role as a mother, a wife and a homemaker should in itself be considered a productive work, which is something beyond any monetary value, as she brings emotional attachment to the family through her concrete and selfless service. The society’s view excessively focuses on housewives as sole nurturers of the family, and hence, by default, it does not respect her as an individual, independent of her role in the family.
It took some intelligent minds and many women, who understood the value of the so-called ‘housewives’ to provide it with a better nomenclature – ‘homemaker.’ It may be recalled that in September 2020, the Madras High Court enhanced a monetary compensation from Rs. 8.46 lakhs to Rs. 14,07 lakhs to a homemaker, awarded by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal in Salem in Tamil Nadu. The judgment held that the homemaker stood on a higher pedestal than other earning family members. The MHC also noted that the value of the homemaker’s contribution to the family was irreplaceable and cannot be compared to that of an “ordinary employee.” No wonder, the judgment was widely reported and rightly applauded. Women’s unpaid household work must be valued as productive work and not simply as work done for the welfare of the family. The reality is that in most cases women have little choice when it comes to housework. It is time the contribution of homemakers to the household is duly recognised in terms of monetary compensation.
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