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Women’s Domestic Work Burden – How Government can reduce it? How to treat unpaid domestic work?

Women’s Domestic Work Burden – How Government can reduce it? How to treat unpaid domestic work?

Relevance:

  • GS 3 || Indian Society || Women || Role of Women

Why in the news?

Women being the pillar of strong society and mostly engage in unpaid job or household work which is hardly recognized or paid for the hard work women do 24*7

Unpaid work by women:

  • In India, women bear a disproportionately high burden of unpaid domestic and care work
  • Women do this work not because they like it or are good at it, but because patriarchal norms force it on them, which are at the root of all-pervasive gender inequalities.
  • A woman’s invisible labor in the home is a 24-hour task with no remuneration, raises, or retirement benefits.
  • If GDP is a measure of the economy’s overall output and consumption, the household produces products and services for its members.
  • Unpaid labor also subsidizes the government by allowing it to care for the elderly, ill, and disabled, otherwise, the state would have spent a lot of money.

Issue with monetizing unpaid work:

  • Demand for salaries: The recognition of this work by political parties is a positive development, and the demand for salaries for housewives has arisen as a result of this consideration.
  • Government’s ability: However, its implementation can trigger issues such as the government’s ability to afford it and the measurement of the amounts.
  • Women may be hesitant to join the workforce. More importantly, these salaries can confirm unpaid work as exclusively women’s work, denying women in other parts of the world opportunities.
  • Paying pensions to elderly women (60 years and older) could be a safer way to compensate them for their unpaid labor.

Unpaid work and the economy:

  • The household provides goods and services for its members, and if GDP is a measure of the economy’s overall output and consumption, it must take this work into account by including the household as a market.
  • On a macro level, unpaid labor subsidizes the private sector by supplying a generation of jobs (human capital) and covering the costs of family members’ labor.
  • In the absence of unpaid labor, the private sector would have paid much higher wages and made much smaller profits.
  • Unpaid labor also benefits the economy by providing services for the aged, sick, and disabled; otherwise, the government would have expended a lot of money.
  • Unpaid labor is a privately generated public good that is essential to the mainstream economy’s survival.
  • As a result, this analysis must be incorporated into the mainstream economy and policies.
  • It would then be up to public policies to increase the productivity of unpaid employees, reduce their burden, and tap their growth potential, as the household could be a significant economic field.

Patriarchal norms:

  • Women’s unpaid work is monotonous, tedious, and often drudgery a 24-hour job with no pay, promotions, or retirement benefits.
  • It limits women’s economic and personal opportunities.
  • Women do this job not because they like it or because they are good at it, but because patriarchal expectations force them to.
  • The unequal allocation of unpaid labor between men and women is unjust and discriminatory, denying women the same opportunities as men.

What the government could do?

  • What governments could do is recognize this unpaid work in the national database by a sound time-use survey and use the data in national policies.
  • Also, they could relieve women’s burden of unpaid work by improving technology (e.g. better fuel for cooking), better infrastructure (e.g. water at the doorstep), shifting some unpaid work to the mainstream economy (e.g. childcare, care of the disabled, and care of the chronically sick), and by making basic services (e.g. health and transportation) accessible to women.
  • Also, they could redistribute the work between men and women by providing different incentives and disincentives to men (e.g. mandatory training of men in housework, childcare, etc.) and financial incentives for sharing housework.

Implementation problems:

  • It is a good development for political parties to recognize this job, and the demand for salaries for housewives has arisen from this concern.
  • However, its introduction can trigger issues such as government affordability and sum estimation.
  • More importantly, these salaries can affirm unpaid work as exclusively women’s work, denying women in other parts of the world opportunities.
  • Paying pensions to elderly women (60 years and older) could be a safer way to compensate them for their unpaid labor.

Measures to be taken by the government:

  • Governments should use a sound time-use survey to identify unpaid jobs in the national database and use the results in national policies.
  • By developing technology (e.g., better cooking fuel) and providing better infrastructure, the government could alleviate women’s burden of unpaid work (e.g. water at the doorstep).
  • It also needs to put some unpaid jobs (such as childcare, disabled care, and chronically ill care) into the mainstream economy, as well as make basic services (such as health and transportation) more available to women.
  • The government should also redistribute work between men and women by offering various incentives and disincentives to men (for example, mandatory training for men in housework, childcare, and other areas) as well as financial incentives for sharing housework.
  • These steps would provide women with more leisure time and new opportunities.

Challenges:

  • The Economic Survey 2019 agrees that unpaid work is a good thing.
  • The terms pay, wage, and benefits are problematic because they imply an employer-employee relationship, i.e., a subordinate relationship with the employer exercising administrative authority over the employee.

Conclusion:

Macroeconomics demonstrates a strong male bias by removing this work from the economy. There is a pressing need to broaden the scope of economics, not just for gender equality, but also to move toward a more rational economics.