Is Women Empowerment Possible With A Salary For Domestic Work?

Kamal Hassan’s proposal for salary to the homemaker in his election manifesto has stirred up a hornet’s nest. Debates are rife everywhere. This is a topic of contention that has hit a nerve in many houses. A debate aired last night on television on this topic left me sleepless. Salary for homemaker, hmmph, I thought. A cacophony of emotions erupted. A jog down the memory lane brought many households to my mind. I felt elated at one moment for household work is finally receiving the due reward. Next moment it brought in a different set of emotions. Will this help in women empowerment? Is this about financial independence for women? And will it change the role of a woman in the society?

Women empowerment - Housewives and salary

Classical conditioning:

With the questions about women empowerment and financial independence for women in the mind, I pushed through the night. Every women empowerment article must discuss this aspect, I thought. So, the next morning I got my friends and family on the other side of the phone to analyze this. Emotions were really running high. Everyone I spoke to had their own set of arguments. Husbands earning, while wives take care of the houses has been the normative way of life. ‘Then why this sudden idea of salaries?’, some asked. This left me wondering if we are not yet ready to accept a change in the role of a woman in the society.

India’s economy is growing, with an increasing GDP and a working-age population expected to climb to over 800 million people by 2050. Despite this growth, less than one-quarter (20.3%) of women aged 15 and older participate in the labor force as of 2020.

Data from the World Bank

A homemaker is always dependent on her husband. This has been a norm and nurtures the thought that there is nothing wrong with it. But, it is undeniable that financial dependency has lead to suppression.

Women empowerment or putting a price tag?

The idea of salary to a homemaker is to enable women empowerment and financial independence for women. On the other hand, opposers have a different view to offer. ‘Is it alright to place a price tag on what a homemaker does for her family? Shall/can we measure her love and care in with money?’ In any scenario, it was undeniable that the perception of the role of a woman in the society has to change. The housework is invisible and unpaid work, hence the least appreciated.

There are families where the woman gets pocket money but has to account for every penny spent. Also, there are proverbial needles in a haystack where the husband proactively slips money into his wife’s purse. Thus the wives don’t have to feel the unease of asking for every penny. Does this provide financial independence for women?

As I pursued the topic further, these conflicting arguments came to the spolight time and again.

1. Romanticizing household chores

A woman has always been the primary caregiver in the house. She is the one who converts a house of brick and mortar into a home with her love and care. Our grandmothers and mothers have done it, and we are keeping on the practice. A picture of a happy balanced home! All is well, till there are love and respect. But when the identity of a homemaker reduces to housework alone, friction arises.

When housework is invisible and unpaid work, society looks upon homemakers’ contribution as void. Also, the fact that housework has to be a shared responsibility is neglected. The basic issue is the practice of romanticizing it to the point that a woman’s life cannot be seen beyond it. Give them time and opportunity to pursue a passion or profession and earn for themselves. Conditioning sons from early on to do housework as a shared responsibility is the first step towards women empowerment.

2. Is a salary to housewives enough for women empowerment?

By giving a salary we can acknowledge their work. A salary accredits them by giving financial independence for women, provided we take many other factors into account. The result is relative to the families. Where there is no respect for women, salary becomes an exhibit. Hence, the change in the mindset is imperative. The fact that housework is invisible and unpaid work makes women the most vulnerable in the family. Even women from affluent families, who have no dearth of money, bear contempt. This second-class citizenship within the house is the barrier to women empowerment. Hence, the notion of the role of a woman in the society must change. A salary can be one of the main aspects that could make a change on a larger scale.

3. Financial independence and women empowerment

Women who have never stepped out of their homes to work rely on male members for money. Due to this, women dread walking out of abusive homes. This in turn leads to suppression and domestic violence. There have been many instances of ill-treatment, psychological, and physical abuse in relation to this. Hence, securing these women in a society which views that housework is invisible and unpaid work is vital. This is where salary to homemaker becomes the key player. It provides financial independence for women, that we have been discussing thereby enabling them to stand up against abuse.

Women empowerment by monetizing housework

4. Should we monetize a woman’s love and care?

A mother’s love, a wife’s care, and devotion are invaluable. Many opined that salary commodifies women’s role in society. But where would one draw the line? The best way for the family to reward her is to give her love, respect, and treat her as an equal. The salary is not a price tag to her emotions and efforts but it is a reward for her efforts.

A homemaker is a partner who deserves equal priority and that is paramount in a family. Working inside or outside should be her choice. In addition, women empowerment should start with enabling them to reach their full potential. In a world of online jobs for stay at home moms, the options of women empowerment are many.

5. Validate housework that is invisible and unpaid by the monetization

Barbara Seel’s, ‘Legitimizing unpaid household work by monetization – achievements and problems’ defines housework as, ‘”Household production consists of those unpaid activities which are carried on, by and for the members, which activities might be replaced by market goods or paid services, if circumstances such as income, market conditions, and personal inclinations permit the service being delegated to someone outside the household group”’.

Value of housework
ET estimates that a homemaker mother in an average middle class family in urban India deserves a salary of at least Rs 45,000 a month for the various tasks she performs at home.

In a case study prepared by the Evangelical Social Action Forum (ESAF) and HealthBridge, it is noted that women carry out about 33 tasks in a day. After assigning a very low wage rate to these tasks, an annual for this unpaid housework was USD 612.8 billion, 61% of GDP. Quite a figure there. The study talks about how to address gender bias. Undervaluing a woman’s work can be addressed if the work does can be presented in a monetized format.

Housework is invisible and unpaid work but if women would stop doing housework, the economy would change. The cost of many goods and services would go up. Some food for thought here. Economic times, in a women empowerment article, estimated that women deserve a minimum of forty-five thousand rupees per month. Hence salary can be the first step in providing financial independence for women thereby changing the role of women in the society.

Conclusion:

Arguments on both sides are many. A debate on whether women deserve a salary or not has begun. But the bottom line is, women across every stratum are exploited and ill-treated. It is high time the role of women in society changes. Financial independence for women is imperative and women empowerment is a requisite for a happy future.

We ask you to share your views in comments!

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36 thoughts on “Is Women Empowerment Possible With A Salary For Domestic Work?”

  1. Very thoughtful article.. it is indeed a topic of debate… As we have seen our mothers doing so much work and without any complain.but yes , financial independence is must for everyone. ..

  2. I don’t think anyone can put a price to all the love and care a woman gives to her family. It’s beyond the value of money per se. also putting a price would mean our love towards her is not worth it too

  3. Women empowerment should be more in terms of equal status and equal opportunity rather than placing a price tag. it would be better if the burden of the homemaker is shared rather than fixing a salary for the homemaker.

  4. This is such a nice article about women empowerment. A women who sacrifice everything for her family & children, she works for 24/7 only for her family… her work invaluable she deserves the equal respect like working women’s.

  5. Yes it’s true we can’t monetize all emotions of a home maker but some financial help will boost confidence, independence and many things. Respect will automatically grow.

  6. Great post on women empowerment. We can’t pay back for what our mother’s do for us. Everyone should realise the value of women in their lives and give the respect and love they need.

  7. Beautiful penned 👍 but I don’t know why I’m not agree with salary part yup I’m agree that every Mother and wife every housewife deserve equality. But get paid for her own children take care and cleaning her own home and cooking and feeding her own child is different thing. This is my personal opinion. Me and my husband are equally take care of the everything actually ❤️ I think I understand others opinion too ❤️

  8. Honestly I am okay with women getting a salary for their household work. As I have seen men after getting divorced or separated demeaning the wife for money given as alimony. Financial independence is important for many aspects.

  9. As women the contribution of hard eork, dedication and effort we make for our family is invaluable. No monetory compensation can ever be enough, rather respect and recognition should be what we deserve.

  10. In our patriarchal society, no one even a woman herself also don’t give value for a woman’s work. Not only the homemakers, but many professional women also go through exploitation and suppression. First of all, we have to change the views of society then only woman empowerment is possible otherwise not. Thanks for such well-researched article.

  11. This is a thought provoking post. I personally feel that the love and affection that I get from my family is enough for me to keep going strong. Also I am sure each family handles the finances differently..

  12. No one value the amount of love and care a woman gives from early morning till late at night to make her home a cheerful place. I just loved this piece of article,

  13. I have been reading a lot on this topic. While a monetary compensation may seem like a good idea to many women who have given up on their careers to take care of their family, what they probably need is much more. What about respect, equal say in decision making, etc? A lot of things need to be addressed in this regard.

  14. There is no value attached to a mother’s love and care but we women have to assert ourselves. “Conditioning sons from early on to do housework as a shared responsibility is the first step towards women empowerment.”— I have done my bit and my son does everything from cooking, cleaning to nurturing the kids. We in India have a long way to go to reach that stage when men pitch in with all the housework.

  15. You can never attach a price tag to a womans love and mother’s care. But yes it can still be paid off with lots of love, respect and care in return. When a husband respects and loves his wife for what she is doing and sacrificing her career and social life, when kids love their mother and the family as a whole respects her and values hers existence is the right form of pay that a woman desires.

  16. This topic has left each one of us to look beyond the house chores. The matter i snot about the price tag but the respect in the house and the society. In many households woman has to be dependent on their husband and have to agree many conditions which would not be the case if she is financially independent. If a woman is stepping out to earn then managing house is a difficult for all the family members, so handing over a certain amount is not that bad idea. Many would start their own business and growup into giants. Plus we all know emotion that women pours in the house making is more than a man yet they both have their say in any matter, so here are we not comparing number of hours spent on house or for the house we are seeing the contribution in making the house functioning smoothly.

  17. This is no doubt a debatable topic. Do women really want to be paid for doing things for family as well as why not quantify the household work in terms of budget. Both are disputable topics.

  18. Such a well versed blog I must say! Me being a homemaker since the birth of my daughter and now a mother of two kids have always kept my home, my kids and family first. Something that I chose to do. But when questioned by known it hurts. The devotion we put in should be considered equally important.

  19. Seriously a beautiful read on women and yes women should be respected for all the roles she plays and every role is worth appreciating.. Well written thank you for sharing…

  20. I agree with all points you had mentioned here but will put strong emphasis on point 4. though things could be different from different families but in general I believe that a woman’s love and care for her family did not need any monetary compensation, she just need equality, respect and support from her family to fulfill her own dreams too.

  21. This has become the hottest topic for debate among friends and family. If you ask me I don’t think putting a price tag on a woman’s work & efforts for her family can lead to women’s empowerment but I do feel that it may definitely help some women come out of their shells and look at themselves in a different manner. It may lead to empowerment for some.

  22. Thanks for a well researched and well written article. Indeed it is true that if one were to put an economic value to the unpaid housework done by most home makers, it would be a substantial proportion of the gdp. Yet my own thoughts on the issue of salary are not fully crystallised as there are both pros and cons. Need to think a bit more on this.

  23. I too have mixed emotions on this debate….women’s love and care cannot be monetized but than they do deserve respect and identity of their own. This can make them financially stable but again it is too tough to come to any conclusion.

  24. Everyone says mother’s love is priceless but if we gonna fix the price for that then we will be always in debt for sure💯👍☺️🏘️👩‍👧‍👦

  25. Those are some shocking perspectives with regards to salary for homemakers.
    As absurd as it sounds, you never know it might turn out to be a source of financial independence for women. Lets see how this goes down in the parliament.

  26. I’ve been thinking about this ever since I read about it too. Instead of putting a price on what we do, why not identify our efforts and respect us for it? I don’t think anyone can monetise what women do for their family.

  27. Big thanks 🙏 can’t say enough thanks actually .. it was such a wonderful article .. love love love it so much …people stil doesn’t realize the value of a women as mother , wife and l the roles she plays . Thanks for bringing this out

  28. Such a nice article on women empowerment… Its hight time to realise a womens power and value.. This article was a treat for me

  29. A mother’s love, a wife’s care, and devotion is invaluable. I’m so agree with this statement 💯 this article can be a great lesson for the people who don’t think about women’s value and power.

    1. It is high time I feel that a woman’s contribution in the house is valued and perhaps giving a monetary value to it would be a good idea as it will go a long way in helping a woman have her own money and financial security. And be independent