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Will This SC Ruling Be A Stepping Stone To Indians Valuing Women’s Work In The Home?

Posted: January 8, 2021
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This recent ruling by the Supreme Court of India trashes the stereotypical notion that says “housewives don’t do anything” – husbands please note.

Translated from the original in Hindi by Aditi Singh Kaushik.

The stature of women who are homemakers is not any less than their husbands who go to office, says the Supreme Court of India.

It is about time that we recognize the hard labor done by women at home. It is through their balanced system of working that the economic condition of the house and the country remains strong.

We often witness how most people in a family do not appreciate the work done by a woman, they take her for granted. Family members eat meals cooked by a woman and then have the audacity to pass remarks like , “What else do you know besides cooking?”

It is no hidden fact that many don’t often recognize the love and hard work put up by a homemaker but this recent judgment by the Supreme Court shows that minimizing the labour put by a woman in household chores is nothing but sheer ignorance and stupidity.

Value of a woman’s work in the home

In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court maintained that “the value of a woman’s work is no less than her office going husband.”

A three- judge bench headed by Justice Ramanna said, “Women spend 134 minutes on unpaid caregiving services and looking after the family members while men only contribute 76 minutes.” This statistics is an important reminder for people to contemplate how much women around them work without gaining anything in return for it.

“159.8 million women are engaged in household work,” says the Supreme Court.

Citing data from the 2011 National Census, Justice Ramanna stated, “Almost 159.85 million women mentioned ‘household work’ as their main occupation while men engaged in the same were only 5.79 million.”

Justice Ramanna also cited data from a recent report of the National Statistical Office titled ‘Time Use In India, 2019.’ According to this report, women spend 299 minutes a day on unpaid domestic work while men spend only 97 minutes on an average.

The burden of unpaid work

Justice Ramanna added that, “Women on average spend 16.9% on unpaid domestic services and 2.6% on unpaid caregiving services, while men spend 1.7% and 0.8% respectively.”

The judgment also recognized the labour put in by women residing in the rural areas of the country and highlighted that apart from the household work, rural women also have the responsibility of tending cattle. At the end, Justice Ramanna asserted that it is extremely important to pay homemakers for the hard work they do every day because it is through their hard work that they constitute in the elevation of GDP.

It is a common yet unfortunate phenomenon that whenever words like ‘labour’ and ‘hard work’ are uttered, they are automatically associated with men. In reality, women put in a lot more labour than men but their hard work is either treated like an obligation or taken for granted, especially in Indian households.

We fail to recognize that it is a woman’s perpetual multitasking ability at home which plays a major role in maintaining stability in the house and elevating the economy. It is their right to be paid for the numerous hours of work they put in to cater everyone’s needs at home while ignoring their own.

It is a sincere hope that this judgment prompts people to not only appreciate but also reward women for the labour they do.

Image source: a still from the Hindi short film Juice

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