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The Invisible Worker: If Women’s Work Was Truly Seen & Acknowledged?

Posted: April 19, 2021

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Women are the invisible workforce, always fading into the background, despite holding up the rest of the household on our backs. It’s time to be counted.

Women have been working throughout history, though Society has failed to recognise their contributions. (They have been contributing on the fields (owned by their fathers and husbands), on construction sites (with babies tied to their backs), or selling fish (often fished by their fathers and husbands, thereby acting as saleswomen and distributors).

They have been knitting and manufacturing woollen clothes and other handicrafts. They have been cooking, sweeping, getting wood for the fire, washing clothes, nursing the sick, bearing (thereby giving you legacy), and rearing kids. But when you ask these women about their contribution towards the household, they would reply that they earn NOTHING.

Strange! They are oblivious to their own contribution! Rather, they have been conditioned into thinking that their contribution doesn’t have any economic value. But haven’t we heard, a penny saved is a penny earned”?

Women’s contribution can be corroborated by the fact that domestic work is already a paid job and house-help, housekeeping professionals and childcare workers are all salaried employees.

Truly accounting for a woman’s work

If women’s work was accounted for, they would:

  • Be empowered, leading to independent thought process, family planning, and greater autonomy
  • Become cognizant that they are contributors and providers of infrastructure in a man’s life
  • Stop accepting substandard treatment for themselves and their daughters
  • See people valuing their opinions
  • Have the freedom and courage to make independent decisions, rather than seeking “approvals” and “permissions” from the men in their lives
  • Reduce dependency on males
  • Not be viewed as liabilities by the men in the house
  • Endeavour towards increasing their contribution towards their household income and towards the nation’s GDP, by participating in organised sector jobs.

Am I belittling the household chores women do? No. Recognition and respect for housework are mandatory, but not sufficient. It is time women claimed their fair contribution, and commanded respect and parity.

Unfortunately, the world we live in is materialistic and gives more importance to the provider than the nurturer. Performing household chores has failed to give women equality, parity, standard of life, has stalled their careers and jeopardised their financial security. Confinement to the household has rendered women’s opinions less pragmatic owing to limited exposure.

Take a stand for paid work

The economic and social progress for women can be accelerated by their joining higher-paid industries and jobs in the organised sector.

Should women in the family, mainly homemakers, be paid for doing the household chores? We all agree that a homemaker has a 24×7 duty which includes all activities from house cleaning, childcare, providing meals, emotional support, engaging in daily chores, etc. Some say monetary payments to housewives will belittle their love and care. Counter-intuitively, have we berated the selfless yet paid fire-fighters, military, police, teachers, religious leaders, etc.?

Having said that, it would be impractical to decide wages for domestic chores and to put the onus of this payment on the government or the man of the house.

The best alternative would be to drop our hypocrisy and categorise domestic chores as life skills. It is about time we truly walk the talk of equality.

I urge women to take a firm stand in their homes to promote equitable division of labour and domestic chores and not give up their careers for their own sake. It will help keep them stay afloat and elevate their status in society.

Unless we nurture a culture in which women have equal opportunity to achieve their potential over the long term, gender parity will remain a far-fetched dream.

Image credits: RealPeopleGroup/Getty Images, via Canva Pro

First published here.

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