#Opinion

Women Handle House, Men Handle Money. Is This An Equal Division Of Labour?

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Equal division of labour: Women handle the house, men handle money. That’s how men and women take care of a family together with equal responsibilities. But is it really equal? Is domestic work as simplified as a 9 to 5 job? Is the effort, time and workload of housework equal to that of a paid job? Until when are we going to abide by the traditional ideas of relating domesticity with women and finance with men?

Housework is like an unending maze

In our society, it is believed that women are blessed with the ability to handle the house and family better than men. But when we look deeper, it is just a means of confining women’s freedom in disguise of fake glorification of women. Handling a house is not as simplified as a paid job. You clean the speck of dust today only to see it glaring at you again the next day. You count and cook enough rotis only to know that they are not enough for the moody family that changes choices like the weather.

You hang the clothes to dry and bend down to relax just when the cloud thunders and commands you rush to the terrace, bring back the wet clothes and exhaust your mind in planning the strategies to dry them up. Starting from the morning tea till the dessert after dinner, women do it all. Amidst this, how can you forget the regular medicines and timely meals of the older people in the house? How can you forget the wailing child just when you sat down to have your meal?

Housework is like an unending maze. Once you enter, you can never find an exit. It is a labour that has no end, no time limit, requires effort and attention 24×7 and yet get nothing in return except the proverbial smile, health and sound sleep of the family. Of course, the happiness of family matters but is that enough to compensate for the effort and time that housework requires? When men get paid to work within a stipulated time, which is also for the happiness of the family, why don’t women?

Doesn’t the idea of unpaid domestic work that women are expected to do indicate that the perception of labour is gendered? What justifies women’s dedication to housework with no expectation in return? Just because traditionally women have been considered the subservient gender, should they spend their life arranging the house, parenting kids and taking care of the old while packing up their desires and dreams in a suitcase kept in a corner?

Situation is worse for working women

The situation is worst in the case of working women. Working women not only spend their time at work but are also expected to do their duties at home without fail. Housework, parenting and taking care of the older ones remain the same for working women who also have to pay for half of the family expenses. While for working men, it is just their dedication to the job and taking care of half of the family expenses that matter.

Women spend 352 minutes a day in domestic work while men invest only 51.8 minutes. Yet another report of the year 2020 sated that women spend around 84 per cent of their working hours in unpaid domestic work while men spend 80 per cent of the same on paid work. Just how is this division equal?

How can it be an example of gender equality if women have to handle both paid and unpaid work while men just count money earned from the day or night shift? Wouldn’t it make more sense if men too contribute to the housework? Or women get paid with additional salary for the domestic work they do in a day?

Time to understand equal division of labour

It is about time now that we get rid of the idea that women handling the house and men handling money denotes an equal division of labour. Handling house is not just about cooking and cleaning. It is about managing the budget, being the caregiver in sick and in health and catering to the demands and desires of every member of the family.

In addition to this, housework is burdened by the weight of disrespect and devaluation that women face because of their gender. While on the other hand, the money earned by the men for working within a time limit shines brighter due to the layer of male ego and power. And women are either not paid for their effort at home or their money earned from a job is not considered serious enough.

If you still cannot see the deep-seated inequality in the perception of labour, then maybe it is time for you to question your mindset. Equal division of labour at home can be achieved only when housework is valued as much as a paid job, both in terms of respect and money. And men too should contribute in the housework because a family cannot survive on money alone. It needs food, hygiene and planning. If all this is a woman’s duty, then what is it that makes men the head of the family?

Views expressed are the author’s own.