Certain behaviours are imbibed in humans since inception. They are so deeply rooted that soon they might be a part of our DNAs. For instance, cooking with fire, keeping their groins covered, barter system, etc. I’d like to emphasise on the straightforward concept of barter: to gain anything, you have to give up something — from pulses, buck flesh and money. It’s applicable in every sector of our societies except in the case of housewives/house makers.
Research suggests that the amount of work done by a housewife covers 6 hours of a day whereas “the man” (referring to the primary wage earner of the house and not the gender) of the house covers only 0.84 hours. Economists have also suggested that if domestic workers had been paid, these women would be earning 90 lakh crore rupees per year. Who would be the “the man” of the house then? And that brings us back to a realistic yet intriguing question that we all must ask. If domestic work is a work, then why is it unpaid for?
According to the media that has been in interaction with us from centuries, we have been gradually enunciated that it’s the essence of womanhood, let alone considering it a gender-neutral job. It’s been portrayed as a duty and not as a task that some women might not enjoy. It’s a duty that is selfless and unfortunately, glued to one gender.
We have seen instances in advertisements precisely like that of pressure cookers, washing powders, food products where women are happily performing such chores which are further leading to the success of their children or their husbands at their respective performances. In my opinion, if I were to believe in this norm, I would say that those 6 hours are making a lot of difference in the lives of their families. Why? Because it’s unpaid and might I add, taken for granted and disrespected to a large extent.
I have always questioned my mother as to why all women don’t address their husbands by their names and instead used terms/phrases like “Aap“, “Bittu Ke Papa“, “Bittu Ke Dada” and whatnot, irrespective of their employment status. She said that it is a way of paying respect to the man who runs her family. But who decided that the work of a housewife was any less than that of what a man does outside the four walls. Is it because they are unpaid, if not, then why aren’t they?
I often make scenarios in my head of a man who’s a success in every aspect of his life, from financial to family, but is that achievable without a woman who diligently makes sure that the kids don’t reek at the moral values or get into a hormonal accident at the peak of puberty or the maids don’t spit in the food? Is it possible without a woman abiding by her neglected duty of transforming a house into a home?
Then why aren’t they credited enough for their selfless job that has been forcefully adhered to the virtue of their vaginas? I’ll tell you why, because the work is unpaid in society. It’s free of cost but not free of labour. It’s beyond any job that women do outside their household, but it’s unknown for its unpaid nature.
“In Sweden, which ranks first in the EU’s gender equality index thanks to factors like generous parental leave, subsidised daycare and flexible working arrangements, economists recently studied how promotions to top jobs affected the probability of divorce for each gender. The result: women were much more likely to pay a higher personal price for their career success — promotion to a top job in politics increases the divorce rate of women, but not for men, and women who become CEOs divorce faster than men who become CEOs, summarises Johanna Rickne, a professor at Stockholm University”. I wonder what the percentage would turn out if the wives were paid for their default chores.
A group of housewives from a village in MP, namely Bundelkhand, like thousands of women across the country, had to cross challenging terrains every day to store around a few ounces of water. Due to the weather crisis that has been engulfing us, the wells began to dry up as there was no rain.
Any help from the concerned authorities began to look bleak. That’s when these women, now known as Jal Sahelis (friends of water) began digging a tunnel so the nearby waterbody could change its stream and benefit the deprived villagers. It took them 18 months to do so in addition to their household work. These women inspired more than 700 Jal Sahelis to spread water awareness and adopt the idea of water harvesting in areas where the villagers anticipate or are going through such hardships.
But this is the information that we get through media. What we are not told is the add-on work they indulge in which is considered more of duty — a student must study, a homemaker must wash clothes and utensils, cook food for the family, pray on their behalf, take care of the kids; it’s their assigned jobs. We fail to see the difference because the job is done for the benefit of the rest of the family and not for themselves.
There are numerous journals written on injustice against our gender, but these are a few specific traditions that have failed to be acknowledged. There have been no questions, let alone solutions. We have been unable to comprehend the exhaustion faced by women in the name of zimedaaris and parampara. We are striving to be practical in these modern times but yet drowning the norm in the well of traditions. I repeat it’s simple; we work, we earn. I ask, where’s our share?