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Only 26% of Indian Men Do Any Kind of Housework, Finds National Survey

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Oct 15, 2020

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Image Credit: Alamy

A nationwide survey of time use has laid bare the unequal gender distribution of unpaid household labor in Indian households.

While women spend 84% of their day on unpaid activities, men spend 80% of theirs on paid work. In addition, only 26% of men reported doing any kind of housework. Of those, 8% of men reported participating in house cleaning for any length of time, and just 6% reported participating in cooking for any length of time. Some of the other activities recognized as housework include home decor and repair, pet care, shopping for the household, and more.

The pre-lockdown socio-economic survey, conducted by the National Sample Survey Office between January and December 2019, was published this month. The primary objective of the survey was “to measure participation of men, women, and other groups of persons in paid and unpaid activities.” To do so, they surveyed a nationally representative sample of around 450,000 people and 140,000 households.

The survey was conducted across all states, except the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. While the unequal distribution of unpaid housework between men and women persisted in each of the states surveyed, Haryana was found to be the most gender-unequal state: while men in this state reported doing the least housework — just 15 minutes a day — women there reported spending 269 minutes each day doing unpaid housework. Men in Nagaland and Goa report spending the most time on housework — but no more than 47 minutes each day.



“The stronger the patriarchal norms of gender division in households in a region are, the less likely it will be that men share in household chores — even when they have the time,” Ashwini Deshpande, professor of economics at Ashoka University in New Delhi, told LiveMint, adding “In many households, if a man walks into the kitchen, it is considered odd or wrong. It isn’t paid work that is preventing them from sharing in household work,” she added.

Beyond the broad inequality in division of labor between genders, the survey also analyzed the intersections of caste and class to find out how socio-economic status affects the way people spend their time. Upper-caste people reported having the most time for religious practice, leisure, and self-care activities, including sleep, while people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, reported having the least time for these activities.

“What this means is that however much time you have, you must work! Of course there is no time for leisure. The upper caste men who employ scheduled caste people as wage labor in their farms and enterprises will naturally have time freed up for leisure,” said Sukhadeo Thorat, economist and professor emeritus at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development in JNU, commenting on the caste disparity in terms of how people spend their time.

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Written By Devrupa Rakshit

Devrupa Rakshit is an associate editor with The Swaddle. She is a lawyer by education, a poet by accident, and a painter by shaukh. She has her own podcast called #DateNightsWithD on Spotify. You can find her on Instagram @devruparakshit.

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