The Unpaid Work

Unpaid work is a labor or work getting no direct remuneration. This is a kind of non-market work falling within or outside the production boundary of the System of National Accounts, such as domestic labor. Unpaid labor is by and large performed by women folk in most of the countries highlighting gender inequality resulting in depression and high-stress levels in women. It is very important to balance unpaid work and paid work. As far as poor economies of the world are concerned, even children do unpaid work largely labelled as child labour. Gender roles often dictate employment prospects and occupations undertaken by girls and boys and child labour is no exception.

Gender roles that are socially developed are set as perfect behaviour for particular male or female kind. We have always presented women as dependent whether socially, emotionally, physiologically or economically. Since times immemorial, societies have socially carved out the role of women and portrayed her as weak and dependent. She is showcased as financially more dependent on men. This social construction of women gets defined through a contract called marriage thereby making it obligatory for a man to bear all her expenses and responsibility.

Moreover, it has resulted in women being confined to her home or domesticated for the reason that their basic sources of economic or financial support comes from marriage bond. But equally important is the fact that men are also dependent upon women in terms of his reproductive, social and domesticated needs. Everywhere, gender disparity is witnessed in the sense that more or less women is shown dependent upon men. This gender bias has become a stumbling block in the overall development of women including their choices, capabilities, and freedom to choose things they have reason to value. At the same time such a disparity permits men to continue to dominate women and define them as weak and dependent. It is very important to realize a hard core fact that gender bias conceals the interlinkage and complementarity between men and women. This ignored ‘dual dependency’ highlights the fact that men are dependent on women’s domestic and reproductive labor in the same manner as women are dependent on the income of men.

In most of the countries we observe same roles for women such as giving birth to child, taking care of children, household management, looking after elders, etc. Moreover, within the economic system we find socially constructed gender roles for women which by and large are unpaid and not taken into account as far as national income calculations are concerned. India lives in village where we believe that men are sole bread earners and women are child bearing machine coupled with active members of domestic chores including kitchen garden. Such set roles have therefore been augmented through economic goalmouths puting gender linkages between men and women as a transaction of support for service.

This social set up has its roots in patriarchal society, preference for son, dowry system, etc. All these factors are closely associated with our socialisation process which is learning socially desired values that shape us as a social being. Our socialisation process is lopsided where women are brought up to be relational care takers while men are more self-centered and rational for the reason that their role is attached to improving livelihood security of family and providing money. That is to say that, women offer unpaid work while as men offer money and economic support. Accordingly, as far as unpaid work is concerned, we find men taking backseat and less responsibility than women due to the socially constructed gender roles and gender division of labor necessitating women as care taker or care giver.

It is high time to emphasize upon the socio-cultural impact that stimulate gender bias. India is culturally rich and culture everywhere dominates. Here, cultural factors boost all forms of gender bias including the preference for sons, more expenditure on male child’s education, etc. Gender bias and male preference against female cuts across both caste and class grounds thereby magnifying gender bias. We must shun all forms of bias including gender bias and promote the holistic role of women within and outside the four walls of house.

Home and company manners matter and women are rich in both home and company manners. Her charisma is such that she gets adjusted everywhere. Women work must be appreciated at all platforms and unpaid work needs focus from both academic and research point of view. Unpaid work has to be understood so as to understand gender expression, gender roles, and gender identity.

Dr. Binish Qadri, Former, Assistant Professor, Cluster University , Srinagar.

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