Author: Rishabh Audichya, III year of B.A.,LL.B(Hons.) From ICFAI University, Jaipur.
Homemaking is surely in reality the most important work in the world. -C. S. Lewis
The author of this article addresses the issue of concerning the recognition of the housework by the household women. In India’s patriarchal society, the discussion is of the utmost importance for the 160 million women for whom housework – cooking, cleaning, caring for children and parents, and other activities that require the operation of a household- is the primary occupation. The author brought out several precedents that dealt with the issue of recognizing the work of homemakers and clearly stating that the value of the housework done by a woman was not inferior to that of her husband at the office. Recognizing and monetizing the services of homemakers in society, strengthening their power and independence, and will enable women to be more self-reliant. Study held by the International Monetary Fund, increasing the participation of women in the labor market could boost India’s GDP. Women’s work is not paid, made for household consumption, and is not exchanged on the market. The value of these goods and services is not taken into account either in household income or in GDP. Even Indian law does not define homemakers within a legal framework. Recognizing the work of homemakers is a step towards the constitutional vision of social equality and guarantees the dignity of life for every individual. The purpose of this article is to understand and draw a conclusion on the following:
Need for fixing notional income for a homemaker
Indian legislation must define homemakers within the legal context.
Identifies challenges and opportunities to recognize the work of homemakers
Explore some conceptual issues related to women’s rights.
The Supreme Court in its recent judgment of Kirti & Anr. Etc. V Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. said that the notion that homemakers do not work or add economic value to the household is ‘problematic’ and must be overcome. Naturally, it is so the fact that we all exists means some women have devoted 15-20 years of their lives to make us what we are.
Homemakers are the primary caregivers of children and elders in all countries of the world, they are the ones who, more often urge children of both genders to attend and stay in school. From the management of household work to the development of children, homemakers do it very carefully. But why do we underestimate their work, why do we downgrading this activity, why do we not give the credit to anyone who makes us a leader? If we value a leader, why are we not thinking about the person who makes him, who makes that person a leader. Is there no value for that, does that not involve qualities?
If we look into the past and see who made the maximum impact and it has continued to be series of women from our great grandmother to our mother, the homemakers made the maximum impacts in our lifestyles. However, this does not mean women should be remained within the house; they are free to do their own things. But the values of success do not always have to measured in economics terms, but it has to be measured in terms of life.
DO WE NEED TO FIX NOTIONAL INCOME FOR A HOMEMAKER?
The court while granting the compensation to a victim determines notional income of a victim by two distinct categories, the first related to cases where the victim was employed and the second related to cases where a non-earning victim, such as child, a student or a homemaker. Moreover, in the second categories it is extremely difficult to quantify the amount of compensation by the court. The court often follows different principles when deciding the compensation for a non-earning victim in order to come up with an amount that would be fair in the facts and circumstances.
Some of them deal with the determination of notional income. While determining the notional income some factors and determinations are taken into consideration. In the case of Lata Wadhwa v. State of Bihar, a three-Judge bench while dealing with compensation to homemakers based on services rendered by them in the house, and their age. Also in the case of Arun Kumar Agrawal v. National Insurance Co. Ltd while dealing with the grant of compensation in the case of a homemaker death, held as follows: “In India the courts have recognized that the contribution made by the wife to the house is invaluable and cannot be computed in terms of money. The gratuitous services rendered by the wife with true love and affection to the children and her husband and managing the household affairs cannot be equated with the services rendered by others”
According to 2011 census, nearly 159.85 million women’s main occupation was “household work” as compared to only 5.79 million men. Moreover, the report of the National Statistical Office of the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation, Government of India called “Time Use in India-2019”, stated that on an average, women spend nearly 299 minutes a day on unpaid domestic services for household members as compared to 97 minutes spent by men on average.
“This bias is shockingly prevalent in the work of census. In the census of 2001 it appears that those who are doing the household duties like cooking, cleaning of utensils, looking after children, fetching water, collecting firewood have been categorized as non-workers and equated with beggars, prostitutes and prisoners who, according to the census, are not engaged in economically productive work. Because of such categorization about 36 crores (367millions) women in India have been classified in the census of India, 2001 as non-workers and placed in the category of beggars, prostitutes and prisoners.
This entire exercise of census operation is done under an Act of Parliament”. “With the increasing awareness of this issue the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination vis-à-vis women adopted the general recommendation no.17 on the “Measurement and quantification of the unremunerated household activities of women and their recognition within GDP in 1991. The general recommendation stated that the measurement of unpaid domestic activities of women that contribute to development in every country will help to disclose the de facto economic role of women”.
The question of determination of a household’s notional income, consequently, serves the most important functions. It is about recognizing the large number of women who participated in this process, whether by choice or in accordance with social or cultural norms. It indicates to society as a whole that the legislation and the courts of the land believe in the value of labor, services and sacrifices of homemakers. This is an endorsement of that idea that these activities contribute significantly to the economic situations of the family, and the economics of the nation, irrespective of the fact that it has traditionally been cut off from the economic activity.
This reflects the evolution of the attitudes and mentalities and our obligation with respect to international law. And ensuring the constitutional vision of social equality and ensuring dignity of life to all individuals. The parliament must legislate to fix notional income for homemakers and would ultimately depend on the facts and circumstances of the case. It will assist the courts while compensating those homemakers, who are victimizes anyway. And the Indian laws must need to define homemakers within the legal framework.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IN RECOGNIZING THE WORK DONE BY HOMEMAKERS
Still in the 21st century women’s work in household unrecognized in spite of the fact that the role of homemakers is vital for the development of any individual; in many cases women are the earners and work more hours than men (UNDP-1995). It reflects the lower status of women in family and community; they have little or no influence in household decision making, disparity in responsibilities and the income share received ample attention in Human development Report 1995: “Men received the lion’s share of income and recognition for their economic contribution while most women’s work remains unpaid, unrecognized and undervalued’’ (UNDP 1995:93). This is a result of an incorrect concept of labor force participation which does not include the household or domestic work as a economic activity mainly due to the focus on use value rather than exchange value (Donahoe, et. al.,1999).
“A women work in and outside the household for most of the day and throughout the year. They perform such activities as preparing meals 3 times a day, cleaning and mopping, washing utensils and clothes and keeping house, looking after children, the elderly, and the sick, fetching water, fuel wood, and fodder, caring for livestock (feeding and milking cattle and cleaning the cowshed), weaving and stitching, preserving foodstuffs for lean seasons in the form of pickles, making squash and juices, preparing fields for farming, weeding, leveling, and dividing fields into blocks for irrigation, and harvesting, transporting, threshing, and storing food grains. This is not an exclusive list of activities.
Women also engage in multitasking, which makes their work even more taxing. A study by(Choudhary and Parthasarathy,et.al. 2007) also found that labor is gender specific, women work for longer hours than men, and they contribute significantly to household nutritional security”. The amount of work carried out by a homemaker is invaluable and cannot be measured in terms of money.
If we monetized the work done by a homemaker or provides wages for housework then it would only imprison women further within the household, increasing their social isolation and dissuade men from sharing housework, the work done by a homemaker is beyond the monetary value, monetizing the work of a homemaker would lead to certain decline within our society, but we should recognized their work, sheer amount of efforts they have made for us, today who we are is right because the series of women had played a vital role in developing of our lives.
If a woman intends to have two children and raise them, we can consider this a full time job, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t go to work, if she wants to as a individual to as she’s free to do what she wants to do, but having two children is not about reproduction, you are making the next generation of the people, how the world will be tomorrow will be determined by what kind of mother you have today, the significance of being able to nurture two or three new lives, is a very important job. The ambience that our mother put on for us and the efforts she made to put that ambience and she gave her life to create that ambience, knowing fully well that it is going to happen somewhere and why in our opinion, it is not an important job. What our mothers doing as homemakers, our entire lives depend upon the efforts she has made to make us who we are.
It can be articulated that homemakers play a vital role in our society; they do not work by clock. They keep a close eye on the family throughout the day and night. They deal with all the needs of the husband and children including cooking of food, washing of clothes etc. They guide small children and give them valuable advice for their future. However, despite all of this, the conception that homemaker do not work or add any economic value to the household is a problematic concept, which has been continued for many years and needs to be overcome. We should recognize the work done by homemaker and ensuring the constitutional vision of social equality and guarantees the dignity of life for every individual. The parliament must legislate to fix notional income for homemakers and it would ultimately depend on the facts and circumstances of the case. It will assist the courts while compensating those homemakers, who are victimizes anyway. In addition, the Indian laws must need to define homemakers within the legal framework.
REFERENCES: BOOKS AND ARTICLES
Choudhary, N. and Parthasarathy, D., 2007. Gender, work and household food security. Economic and Political Weekly, pp.523-531.
eixeira, J., Fynn-Thompson, E., Payne, A.H. and Donahoe, P.K., 1999. Mullerian-inhibiting substance regulates androgen synthesis at the transcriptional level. Endocrinology, 140(10), pp.4732-4738.
Hangal, S. and Aminabhavi, V.A., 2007. Self-Concept, Emotional Maturity, and Achievement Motivation of the Adolescent Children of Employed Mothers and Homemakers. Journal of the Indian academy of Applied Psychology.
Salmon, J., Owen, N., Bauman, A., Schmitz, M.K.H. and Booth, M., 2000. Leisure-time, occupational, and household physical activity among professional, skilled, and less-skilled workers and homemakers. Preventive medicine, 30(3), pp.191-199
Smith, T.W., 1985. Working wives and women's rights: The connection between the employment status of wives and the feminist attitudes of husbands. Sex Roles, 12(5-6), pp.501-508.