Should Housewives in India be Paid a Salary? - The Feminine Presence: Part I
When India’s Minister for Women and Child Development, Krishna Tirath recently proposed a bill that would require husbands to legally compensate their wives for house work, she probably had the best intentions in mind. She is quoted in the Indian media as having said, “The socially accepted behaviour (of women doing household chores) becomes a tragedy when a woman gets divorced or widowed and she is left with nothing for survival.” While it does make sense that women with no income of their own must be well provided for by their husbands, does this need to be mandated by law?
Ever since the news of this bill was reported, it has faced criticism from several quarters of the Indian society, women included. An article in a popular online newspaper questioned how one could put a price tag on household work. “Does she get paid extra for cooking up an elaborate birthday dinner, as opposed to dishing up the usual dal chawal?” Activist Maya John provides a different solution in her opinion piece in The Hindu, “Instead of asking a man to pay his wife for her domestic work, the state must create jobs for women outside the home in order to truly empower them.”
When the topic was brought forward during Sadhguru’s Darshan at the Isha Yoga Center, he was quick to provide his insights on the issue. Below is an excerpt from his talk.
Sadhguru: The most basic structure of the social unit is the family. Fortunately so far, the government has had the wisdom to stay away, keep their hands off the family, because they know they will mess it up. But it looks like now they want to enter your family in the guise of giving justice to women. You need to understand one thing, if a woman is paid for the chores that she does at home, she can also be fired. No divorce is needed. She is not cooking properly, fire her tomorrow morning. The next day you can hire somebody else. The sanctity of what it means to be a family will disappear. Not just the husband, even the children will ask, “Well, you are being paid, why are you not doing this?” The sanctity of being a wife, the sanctity of being a mother, the sanctity of being a feminine presence in the family, all this will be ruined and she will be reduced to a paid-for maid. The worst possible vocabulary could be used in this scenario. It is nobody’s business to enter a family and say how it should be run. The laws are on the street and not inside one’s home. That is a place where nobody should meddle except the people who live there.
In today’s society, it has been observed that the title of "housewife" is inadvertently less valued than that of a "working woman". Will the mere payment of a salary elevate the role of the housewife and make it more worthy of social recognition? Stay tuned for answers to these questions and more through Sadhguru’s words, in the concluding part of the series: The Feminine Presence, next week.
Editor’s Note: Do you think it makes sense that homemakers receive a monthly salary? Let us know your opinions in the comments below.