TN Political Party Proposes Salary for Home‑Makers’ “Unrecognized” Work As Part of Economic Agenda
A Tamil Nadu-based political party — Makkal Needhi Maiam (MKM) — plans to set up a salary for home-makers as part of its economic agenda if elected. The party, helmed by film personality Kamal Hassan, made this policy proposal public via an announcement of a seven point governance and economic agenda on Monday.
According to the agenda, the party states, “Homemakers will get their due recognition through payment for their work at home which hitherto has been unrecognised and unmonetized, thus raising the dignity of our womenfolk.”
“Ninety percent of their work goes unnoticed despite it being a significant contribution. We still have to work out exactly what amount will be given to them as compensation but we are confident this can be done,” Hassan told The News Minute. “Every year, the [current ruling party] AIADMK government gives families Rs 2,500 but this money is either spent as [state-run alcohol shops] TASMACs or for other expenses by men. We are looking to directly pay women a monthly amount that they can save and use at a time of crisis,” he adds.
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Unpaid work has always been gendered in India, with both urban and rural women taking up the burden of housework and carework in the family, regardless of whether they stay home or work. The Covid19 pandemic magnified the burden of unpaid housework on Indian women, with barely any support from male partners who also stayed home. In July, a working mother created a petition to implore the Prime Minister to make men share the workload at home in one of his speeches.
The lack of free time, financial help and sometimes, violence in households during the pandemic has led to women having less bargaining power at home. While it remains to be seen if Makkal Needhi Maiam can quantify the amount unpaid housework deserves and follow through on its promise, the necessity to provide financial security for home-makers who do unpaid work is an important conversation that all political parties should be having.