BURDEN OF WORK

Here’s why being a housewife is a full-time payable job

Women spend an average of about five hours a day on unpaid care work.

In Summary

• In the event that a wife is a working woman, she may employ the help of a domestic worker or shoulder the housework and her career work at the same time.

• UN Women reported in an article titled Redistribute Unpaid Work that this may lead women to work longer hours.


A housewife in the 1970s prepares a meal for her family.
HOUSEWIVES A housewife in the 1970s prepares a meal for her family.
Image: COURTESY: PINTEREST

Many housewives wake up at dawn to get their children and spouses ready for school or work and go to bed very late making sure that the house is in order.

According to studies, women spend an average of about five hours a day on housework doing primary care.

Primary care, in this case, includes cooking, cleaning, child care, laundry, elderly and sick care, to mention a few.

When High Court Judge Teresia Matheka made a ruling in September 2021 to have housewives paid, many heads rolled.

Mostly, heads of patriarchal individuals in our societies.

It has been engraved in our cultures that housework is women’s work and men go out to earn a living, therefore, women should not get paid for such jobs.

That could not be further from the truth.

In the event that a wife is a working woman, she may employ the help of a domestic worker or shoulder the housework and her career work at the same time.

UN Women reported in an article titled Redistribute Unpaid Work that this may lead women to work longer hours.

Matheka said during her ruling over a matrimonial property division case that housewives provide services in the home that are otherwise outsourced and paid for.

“It is unfair to only rely on seen income and the mindset that one has to contribute money to the marriage to find value,” she said.

The term Unpaid Care work has been used by many women’s rights organisations to mean work done without pay that is typically not regarded as paid labour, for example, house chores.

During the pandemic, UN Women said, unpaid care skyrocketed as schools were closed and work was halted or done from home.

“Women still did the lion’s share of unpaid care during the pandemic than men as women carry out at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men,” said the agency.

Women hardly complain about doing this work because they are doing it for their families.

However, people may dismiss this work saying things like “housewives do not work.”

The work that housewives do anchors households.

“Women’s unpaid work subsidises the cost of care that sustains families, supports economies, and often fills in for the lack of social services,” said UN Women.

If everyone, especially men, can not share in unpaid care work, they can at least respect and appreciate the work that housewives do.