A step back in gender equality -Sunny Jose

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published Published on Jan 12, 2021   modified Modified on Jan 12, 2021

-The Hindu

Paying women for domestic and care work is a recognition of their efforts but may not reduce and redistribute their burden

Is the electoral promise of paying women for carrying out domestic work and care work a progressive public policy? The proposal, put forth by Kamal Haasan’s political party, Makkal Needhi Maiam, has generated curiosity and reopened the old but unsettled academic debate. On the face of it, the proposal might appear progressive. However, closer scrutiny suggests otherwise.

Disproportionate burden of work

Women bear a disproportionately high burden of unpaid domestic work and care work in India. It would be instructive here to examine how Tamil Nadu, where the electoral promise is being made, fares vis-à-vis India. The all-India Time Use Survey (2019) says that 82% of females (six years and above) as against 24% of males from Tamil Nadu participate in unpaid domestic work. The huge disparity persists even if we look at the age group of 15-59 years: 90% of females and 24% of males participate in domestic work. A similar disparity prevails at the all-India level as well: 81% of females (six years and above) and 26% of males participate in unpaid domestic work. There is an equally huge disparity in the average time spent by participating males and females. While females (six years and above) in Tamil Nadu spend, on average, 261 minutes a day in unpaid domestic work, males spend only 91 minutes. The corresponding figures for females and males in India are 299 minutes and 97 minutes, respectively. The data suggest that females bear more than 83% of the burden of domestic and care work both in Tamil Nadu and India.

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The Hindu, 12 January, 2021, https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/a-step-back-in-gender-equality/article33552166.ece?homepage=true

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