|Should housewives be paid wages? This one billion dollar question has been making the rounds on social media platforms in recent times and no one seems to be satisfied when confronted with answers. There seems to be two schools of thought. |
The first school of thought supports the assertion that housewives should be paid wages. One of their greatest point is the recent judgment of the High Court in Kenya which ruled that housewife is a full time job and should be payable.
Justice Matheka who delivered the judgment was of the view that housewives shouldn’t say that they don’t work because they provide services in the home which is otherwise outsourced and paid for.
The second school of thought are of the opinion that a housewife shouldn’t be paid for contributing her own quota to the development of the family. They said after all the children belongs to both her and the man, so why should she be paid for caring for them?
A full time house wife should be fully appreciated and valued. She is the power house of the home. Everyone draws on her strength. Should she be paid ? Now that’s a grey area for me. 11 years ago, I took a front seat in this conversation and as an activist, I contended that she should be paid. You see I believe in equality, I have total dislike for this discrimination against women, this patriarchal way of treating women in our society. I also believe that what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Yes. I believe in a lot of things concerning equality such as if women are given the same opportunity as men they will thrive as well but women are always at a disadvantaged position.
So I canvassed for women to be paid for being a house wife 11 years ago, I did this through the popular social media platform called “Facebook.” You know that zeal that comes with being young and my extreme passion about issues always burns deep on issues of gender equality as well as protection of the vulnerable ones in the society.
Now my position is in between which I term as a “grey area.” I say this for a number of reasons, some of which are birthing kids and nurturing them is a huge work and it is one of the hardest at that. Yes it is. Except you don’t know the length and depth of it. Women spend a minimum of 10 years to nurture one child and the remaining 5 to 8 years to ensure the child is engrained with all the values the parents and more particularly in the African society, the woman has instilled. Women make huge sacrifices one that should not be easily looked over. One that should not be made fun of under the guise of them loving children more than men. About loving children, it depends on one’s personality. Some men love children more than women and in other cases, the reverse is the case. Most career women love their careers to having children so they opt for two or three children compared to women who rather have 4 or 5 or 7 or 8 children or more.
Women are strong and the world should recognise it for what it is. Raising children and caring for the home takes a toll on one’s mental health.
If you want a properly raised child then get ready to sacrifice 17 to 18 years in ensuring that happens. Now that’s enough time to become a Director General in an Agency and its enough time to become a business mogul of some sort and an expert in one’s field.
Do you know its easier to do a 9 to 5 job than be a full time house wife raising babies and toddlers ? Housewives should raise their heads up, shoulders high and work with dignity. That stigma and shame should be replaced with admiration and praise for the selfless service being rendered. To properly care for children, a husband and a home requires physical and emotional strength.
House wives are also vulnerable to a multitude of things, their mental health is at stake, they are vulnerable to financial, emotional and physical abuse. Because they are not empowered and as a result they can be easily over powered and abused. Full time housewives are not financially independent. They also see their mates of the opposite sex thriving in their career while they are home birthing kids for the family and sometimes they have to make the tough decision of forfeiting a career path in order to save their marriage or properly look after their kids.
Now I can hear the career women screaming, how about us? we work and also do all and more that full time house wives does, have we asked for wages for taking care of our home? Most importantly we contribute financially towards the upkeep of the home rather than being paid for taking care of the home. This article is not focused on working class women but full time housewives. For the avoidance of doubt, a full time house wife is one who dedicates all hours of the day to care for the children and her husband and the home. She practically has no time to run a business or even if she has a business, she prioritises the house needs including that of her children and husband over and above her business.
Some women are full time housewives by choice because both couples feel this is the best way to raise their children and also take care of their homes. In instances like this, the full time housewife should be paid wages or given stipends by their spouse to enable her take care of her personal needs.
Some women are full time housewives by force, in those cases, the husband has categorically stated that the wife must not work or do business, but must give her full attention to him and the children and the home, in such instances, the housewife must be paid wages.
In cases for example where the woman is a full time house wife by condition, i.e she couldn’t get a job because she changed location after the wedding or she cannot return to her old job because it is demanding which leaves her with little or no time for the household affairs, then the man is also duty bound to provide her with stipends or some sort of wages to care for her personal needs.
A full time house wife by choice or condition should be paid wages or a stipend if her husband does not render any form of help when he is home. Why? Because the perception of that man is that its not his duty to attend to house chores or assist with looking after their children however slightly or even assist with looking after himself.
By the way, children are extremely inquisitive and this full time house wife is at the end of each day, emotionally drained, then she goes on to also care for her husband and the home in ways that can only be imagined.
A full time house wife is a nurse/doctor, she is a help, she is a mother, she is a wife, she is the fixer, she is the accountant and she is the manager depending on the roles that has been left for her to play. Her working husband is the provider. That’s one role compared to the full time house wife, however this is not to undermine the role of the provider but to emphasize on the need to cherish the role or huge contributions being made by full time house wives.
How about the working women who do all these and more? A woman who goes to work daily leaves the worries and emotional demands of her children in the hands of a professional such as a school teacher, nanny, or an extended family member. She is mentally free for about 8 hours or more before she comes back into the chaos. She also has the option of hiring a professional help to clean the house because she is financially capable of covering that expenses.
But a full time house wife is always in the chaos and has no escape route. She has no “me” time. She is trapped until the children are grown-ups and at that point she believes her whole essence of living is gone because there is actually nothing to do for all she knows how to do is take care of the children and the home. Haven’t you noticed that full time housewives are always trapped in time? They call their grown-ups children to remind them to do basic things like don’t forget to brush your teeth or eat your breakfast because these full time house wives have nothing else to do and to their mind, their children are still little.
Finally, being paid stipends or wages as a full time house wife ultimately rests with the depth of understanding the husband has and the agreement between the couples.
In order to balance this conversation, it is pertinent to ask: Should house husbands be paid wages? Join us next week to know our view on this.