The notion that housewives do not "work" or that they do not add economic value to the home is a problematic idea that has been argued and should be overcome. Justice NV Ramana wrote this order in an appeal arising out of motor accident compensation which was delivered on 5 January 2021
Certainly monetary quantification is needed to determine the work done by women but giving them money is a tricky situation. It is shocking that the Supreme Court of India has fixed the monthly income of a housewife at Rs 6,000 (notional). Earlier this amount was 3000 per month which was decided by a motor vehicle tribunal while fixing compensation. The court may have doubled the value, but this does not mean that the new amount justifies the amount of labour done by the housewives. How many highly qualified professionals such as MBAs, engineers, bankers leave their jobs of millions to raise their own children - that love and motherhood is not worth these pennies.
In a country like India, only 22 percent of the women are engaged in the workforce, and 40 percent of them are engaged in agricultural activities that are informally low in income with almost no access to economic remuneration or social recognition and social security. In addition, their socioeconomic status in society further deteriorates as they simultaneously do unpaid household activities in the family in the form of cooking, cleaning, and babysitting.
The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals recognize the importance of unpaid care and domestic work through public services, infrastructure, and social security policies, as well as shared responsibility within the home. This is done as by performing these unpaid work, women subsidize the market and also reduce the burden of the state. However, most of the unpaid work of women is done regardless of the benefits recognized by these institutions.
Unpaid work, as given by the International Labor Organization, done to maintain the well-being and maintenance of other individuals in a household or community, is non-remunerative work, and includes both direct and indirect care. ILO estimates states that the time spent in unpaid work is 16.4 billion hours per day, with women contributing more than three-quarters of the total, equivalent to 2 billion people working on a full-time basis without pay. In India, women work on an average 351.9 minutes / day on unpaid work, compared to an average of 51.8 minutes / day compared to men.
It is time for us to give importance to the labour of housewives and recognize it through laws and policies. Like Rs. 6,000 per year income support under Prime Minister Kisan Fund (PM-KISAN) to all farmer families across the country every four months wherein 2,000 is provided in three equal installments. Can the government not bring such policies for housewives? Is it not their right to stand on their own feet and be financially independent! The government should introduce a scheme wherein housewives' education is state sponsored and subsequently provided a job. They can also be trained in such a way that they are able to start their own online businesses. They should be given some sponsorship or some monetary help by the government to get started with their business. This will not only solve the issue of unpaid labour, but will also help India achieve gender equality in terms of economic freedom.