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Homemaker= Employed!

“A wife/mother does not work by the clock. She is in constant attendance of the family throughout the day and night unless she is employed and is required to attend the employer’s work for particular hours. She takes care of all the requirements of husband and children including cooking of food, washing of clothes, etc. She teaches small children and provides invaluable guidance to them for their future life,” said a Bench at the Supreme Court of India, India’s apex court in a landmark judgement.

The judgement also accepted there was discrimination against women in various social legislations and also in judicial pronouncements.

Women have slogged it out at home without any tangible value attached to what they do for time immemorial. That could now change with the Supreme Court observing that the work of women at home mostly goes unrecognised and is never valued, and suggesting the Parliament consider enacting a law to evaluate household work done by home-makers.

The odds are heavily stacked against women in India anyway. It remains a nation of stay-at-home wives, though more women are going out to work. Housewives play a key role in keeping families together in a country with virtually no government-aided social security. A 2008 study showed barely 13% of women – between 18 and 59 years – work. Of this, only 18% of women work in the organised sector, the majority in farms. Just 10% of seats in parliament are held by women. Only 9% of companies have any participation by women in ownership. No wonder India ranked a lowly 116 in the 179-country Gender Development Index in 2006.

Last week, the Supreme Court found that the bias extended to the country’s census. It said that the census appeared to club women who were doing household work, looking after children, fetching water, collecting firewood with beggars, prostitutes and prisoners who are “not engaged in economically productive work”. That’s about 367 million “non-working” women, according to the 2001 census. Analysts say such systemic, institutional gender bias in a mainly patriarchal society will take decades to erode.

Strangely, as we go towards identifying the efforts of the home maker, we fail to realise that most working women in India do also slog as a home maker. So in the end, it is a double shift! The case where working women get support via maids, nannies and other paid-support is minimal. Men at times question about how maids/nannies can instill proper morals in children when women prefer to go out on work. But while saying this, they still are unwilling to accept women’s contribution at home.


I loved your entry, where women who are tied with both domestic work and other forms of labor is an issue that is having a negative affect on industrialized or industrializing countries. Women are pressured to leave the home and become the bread maker. Though once they are indentified with this role they are looked down upon for 'neglecting' the family. Thus, she has to jobs, where only one is appreciated by the government. Furthermore, when women have defined themselves with the two roles, men don't have to reshape their image. They don't place more effort on home life, such as cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the children.

victorymust's picture

Thanks for the

Thanks for the message.


olutosin's picture

educative post/journal

This is quite educative friend especially to women who are yet to understand what majority of women froM the developing world are facing. My solidarity is always with rhe domestic workers who are mostly unrecognised women, do you believe that even ourr government/leaders are also involved in this. Atrocitie against domestic workers? Thanks victorymust

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town


victorymust's picture

Thanks for the message!!

Thanks for the message!!

meenakshi's picture

Two pillars - law and society

Thanks for this update, victorymust. I'd love to know more about what the Parliament is expected to do.

I like the way you have extended it out towards society.

On one hand, it is an important step to make rules; but on the other hand, women themselves need to start valuing the work that they do, or their daughters or daughters in law - whether in or out of the house. This can then extend outward to change the attitudes of the men in their lives and change society.

Valentina's picture


Women who are wives and mothers do take on a lot of work and often get no credit for it at all. Then there are women who have to hold down jobs and do all of that work at the same time. These women are the driving force of the economy as well.

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victorymust's picture

Meenakshi and

Meenakshi and Valentina,

Thanks for the response. A NGO has put $680 billion as an amount contributed by women homemakers to Indian household/society/financial system. The court judgement has also mentioned it.
But still have you noticed something. This news item was not picked up well. It did not spread itself on bill boards/broadsheets. Why? I feel that most radical changes tend to come like this and really hope to see this one happening during my lifetime.


claire83's picture

Very instructive article, I

Very instructive article, I learn a lot of things thanks to your website, thanks a lot.

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