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Stay-at-home- moms do not go out and earn, but their care giving activities are of great value in building the country's economy.
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash
Twenty-five years ago, when my daughter was a preschooler and son a toddler, my husband and I had a disagreement. I wanted to buy a sofa set for the home as there was no comfortable seating for visitors. My husband felt that the children were at an age when they would jump on the sofa and damage it. He suggested that we should wait a few years before investing in one.
The logic behind the two points of view is not the debate. The debate is that, in many households, a woman who does not contribute financially to the family income has very little say in purchase decisions.
By the way I did get the sofa set (that we are still using) by dogged perseverance with a healthy dose of nagging thrown in! But it shouldn’t be so difficult for a stay-at-home mom to get heard.
There has been a clamour for many years to somehow assess the unpaid home and child care activities that a woman does and include it in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. The problem, policymakers say, is that it is difficult to estimate the value of household work. Surely, a way can be found to quantify the unpaid work done by countless women.
A recent ‘Business World’ report quoted State Bank of India (SBI) data that indicated that the total contribution of unpaid women to the economy is around Rs. 22.7 lakh crore, which is almost 7.5 per cent of India’s GDP!
This report from the SBI’s Economic Research Department stated that the total contribution of unpaid women to the economy is around Rs 14.7 lakh crore in rural India and Rs 8.0 lakh crore in urban areas.
“Unpaid domestic work is an important aspect of productive activities and an indispensable factor that contributes to the well-being of households and the economy,” it stated. However, the predominance of women in domestic work and keeping them out of ‘economic activities’ put unpaid domestic work under the shadow of invisibility, outside the production boundaries, and further outside the purview of economic policy, the report added.
This is a global problem. As per a United Nations report, 75 per cent of the world’s unpaid care and domestic work is done by women. And, unpaid domestic work accounts for 13 per cent of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
There seems a glimmer of hope, however. Another recent report in ‘The Economic Times’ says India is exploring different methods to quantify the contribution of women’s household chores to the country’s GDP. The government may use the Time Use Survey, diary method and direct observation method to understand how Indian women spend their time. Once the information is available, the government may develop a methodology to account for household work in the GDP.
This will make a tremendous difference to the lives of countless Indian women. Not only will it boost their self-esteem, it will empower them to make household purchase decisions with confidence. The question: How soon will this happen?
I am a freelance journalist and write on parenting, personalities, women’s issues, environment, and other social causes. read more...
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