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Should Women Be Paid For Household Work?

India women household chores, men doing house work
Should women be paid for household work: The debate surrounding salaries for women who are homemakers arises from the large gender disparities that one sees in participation in household work, even more so, in a country like India, where, studies conclude that women spend as much as 9 times more time doing chores than men.

This work is called a woman’s “duty” and this is justified by a woman’s “natural emotions” of “love” and “caregiving”. While payment for this “job” may make a woman independent, there are certain reasons as to why this cannot be done. I look at the many questions people raise on why paying women for house work isn’t going to be a reality.

  • Who will pay?

If at all, women, homemakers, or any person are paid for their household work, the question arises that who will be the one to pay for this work. It is ‘impractical’ to have the husbands pay because this doesn’t essentially add to the family income and it also furthers the notion of the men being the sole providers of the family, leading to no development whatsoever.  One cannot also necessarily ask the government to pay as their money comes from taxpayers. So this question stays open ended. Since 2006, Venezuela paying its homemakers 80% of the minimum wage, $180 per month (INR 13000) . It has been helping a lot of women in the country, though a modest sum. Many Indian political parties like DMK, AIADMK, AITC etc. , have made electoral promises of cash incentives to homemakers.

  • Stereotyping women’s role

Paying housewives, a basic salary for the work they do, may lead to this kind of work being stereotyped to women. What started as an incentive to make women independent, may itself lead to confining them within their households, also, insultingly assigning this role to only women. Women themselves will consider their sole roles in society as homemakers as that is what society and even the government expect of them.

  • No incentive for women

This initiative may lead to many women having no incentives or aspirations in their life as their lives are reduced to only getting married and then working in the home and being paid for it. I asked an aunt at home about how she feels about the idea of getting paid for housework, and she was of the opinion that while it may seem appealing, it is not a practical solution in the long run because these days women increasingly prefer to continue working after marriage.

Many will think that if they are being paid for doing the bare minimum then what is the need to go out and pay money to get educated and then find a job for themselves.  The easier way out for many of them would just be working in households and getting the basic salary. This will only lead to a wider gender gap in the working population which we have set out to reduce.

  • Societal Differences

India is a country with wide social and economic disparities. If we set out to pay every single woman who is a homemaker, it would be difficult to evaluate a common salary because while a rich woman can easily hire domestic help and free herself of the burden, a woman from a poor household, has the entire burden on herself.

Thus, I believe that payment for women, who are homemakers, would not be the correct way out. It may force certain sexist societal roles on women, which is the opposite of development in this case. Rather, equal shares in household work should be promoted, along with equal shares in the family’s finances, therefore removing the stigma associated with certain gender roles.

Views expressed are author’s own


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