Government to Track the Value of Women’s Unpaid Housework

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Aug 8, 2018

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The Government of India announced plans to conduct a yearlong, nationwide survey of who does what work in homes and how much, in order to document the value of housework. The survey will be carried out regularly every three years, Debi Prasad Mondal, director general of National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), told Bloomberg. The findings from the first survey will be published by June 2020.

“We will be able to understand how much time is spent in cooking and washing,” said Mondal.

It may sound trivial, but housework has gone undervalued as long as it has been seen as ‘women’s work.’ Around the world, women perform around 75% of unpaid domestic work, which is said to be valued at 13% of global gross domestic product. If unpaid housework was to be added to national accounts, according to a recent United Nations report, it would make up anywhere between 15% to 50% of gross domestic product.

In India, where a vast majority of women never work, or quit their jobs to look after children or elderly family, this invisible workforce may be even greater. Women account for 49% of India’s 1.3 billion population, contributing roughly 352 minutes of unpaid work daily, as opposed to men’s 51.8 minutes — which is, perhaps, why they only make up 27% of India’s workforce. Further, more than 90% of these working women, roughly 130 million people, are part of the informal sector, which means their contribution at home or at their places of employment, does not get counted.

“India’s labour and employment surveys broadly capture the work done by men. Many women are not in employment so we don’t get much details about them,” said Mondal.

The survey, which will monitor how 150,000 representative Indian households spend their time, will be used to better understand employment trends and target welfare policies. And maybe, just maybe, to recognize how hard women work even — especially — when they’re not employed.

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Written By Angelina Shah

Angelina Shah is a staff writer with The Swaddle. In her previous life she was a copywriter in advertising. She has a penchant for reading, singing, travelling and being obsessed with superheroes.

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