This is one question that keeps cropping up again and again. I was single when I read something along the same lines after an American survey some years ago and now I'm reading it as a housewife. This time, the Union Women and Child Development Ministry in India is preparing a draft Bill that would entitle housewives a monthly income from their husbands. Of course, all the debaters are out again in force.
Personally, I believe it is important to recognize the work women do at home, especially as in most cases they carry a disproportionate burden of chores. Wives and moms are usually satisfied by the gratitude and happiness of their husbands and children, as well as the peace and progress of their families, but where the outcome is not so positive, then what? Maybe it makes sense to reward her in cold hard cash.
Indeed, the women and children minister said the Bill, which IBN Live says is likely to be presented before the Indian Parliament within six months, was aimed at empowering women. According to her,
“A majority of women in India are involved in household chores after getting married but they do not get any salary for it. The socially accepted behaviour becomes a tragedy when a woman gets divorced or is widowed when she is left with nothing for survival. The Government is mulling to bring a law under which a husband will have to legally pay a definite amount to his wife from his salary and the Ministry has started preparing a draft in this regard,” Tirath told Express during a telephonic interview from New Delhi on Friday.
“When we are given an equal status by the Constitution, why is it that we have to accept the social condition that takes it for granted that women have to do the household chores? She is no slave and now we have to fight to bring about a change in thinking,” she added.
Since an estimated two-thirds of married Indian women are victims of domestic violence, Tirath believed this economic empowerment would be a welcome respite for them.
Now I won't be surprised if the figures of abused women are similar in Nigeria, and I also will add the number that get separated from their husbands with no child support or alimony. It is indeed a terrible situation that contributes a lot in keeping women down and browbeaten by the men around them.
However, while in concept it sounds great to determine the value of the work women do at home and pay it to them, the truth is that it will be hard to do. How can one even begin to put a price tag on some of those chores? Most women do it from the heart, for them it is not a job. It would just be too problematic to try to monetize housework. Let's look at some gray areas;
1. Women would be cooking and cleaning their own homes anyway, so how do the separate the two, for herself and for the rest of the family?
2. What if the husband is OK with a dusted coffee table but she wants to wax and polish it too? What if the children are fine with fried chicken, but she decides to make coq au vin? Will the husband pay extra for all that?
3. Making it compulsory for the husbands to pay for the house work to wives with a certain percentage of their salaries may create even worse scenarios where the men get resentful, bossy, abusive, or worse.
Finally, how will this law be implemented?