Housewives, the stay-at-home mothers who work all day raising their children and taking care of their husbands, or women who are out of the labor force and are commonly considered “unproductive” should now be compensated for their contribution to society, according to a bill filed in the House of Representatives.
Authored by Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, House Bill 8875 stresses it is high time to recognize the job of these women “as valuable economic activity” and to highlight their worth in nation-building, “make payment for their housework and give them wages for the work they continue to bear out at home.”
Salceda noted that as of January 2018, an estimated 12 million individuals—11.2 million of whom were women—were not in the labor force due to “unpaid care work,” which means they were working at home and tending to the family.
Out of this number, 4.168 million have at least one child under 12 years old, with some 1.790 million living below the poverty line, said the lawmaker.
A noted economist, Salceda proposes to focus initially on women with at least one child under 12 years old and living under poverty line and seeks to provide them with a monthly P2,000 compensation until they either graduate from poverty or no longer have children under 12.
The bill assigns the Department of Social Welfare and Development to formulate and institute the appropriate mechanisms and identify the beneficiaries.
He said the total annual cost of such a social protection assistance program for stay-at-home women from poor families may reach P35 billion — P32 billion would go to married women, P3 billion to single mothers, and the rest to widows, divorcees, and other women.
Studies also show that women and men have a wage disparity, but the gap widens significantly at an average of 32% after a woman gives birth, Salceda added.
The proposed measure is set to break the conventional principle of economics that “work that is not paid for does not count as productive labor.”
This includes the work of “housewives or stay-at-home who take care of their children, who walk them to school and assist them in their school homework, manage very little family budget, do grocery shopping” and other domestic tasks.
Salceda observed that Philippine society considers stay-at-home mothers to be “doing nothing” because they do not go out to work and earn from a paid job like the husbands, when in fact their jobs could be considered “social reproductive work” that is mostly disregarded.
“What if these stay-at-home mothers or housewives take out their services as child caretakers, as homemakers, cooks, and sometimes even as care providers for the elderly and the sick of the family? Would not husbands be less productive at work, would not their children be underperforming in school or worse, may even be juvenile delinquents and pose a threat to the society? Clearly, the country’s production processes will grind to a halt,” Salceda said.
A homemaker or housewife “deserves at least an amount equivalent to a minimum wage, considering that household work is also a full-time job,” Salceda said.
“Some studies show that if we quantify the work of stay-at-home women, it approximates the work of ‘kasambahay’ or housemaids, thus housewives also deserve to get paid at least what a ‘kasambahay’ earns,” the lawmaker added.
“To avoid distortions in the labor market and because of fiscal constraints, however, the State should at the very least provide some social assistance support targeted to stay-at-home women from poor families who care for at least one child aged 12 and below,” he said.
Throughout the last three decades, Salceda said the State has protected women’s rights and worked to ensure gender equality with the adoption of several landmark laws that impact on the welfare of women, including RA 9710 or the Magna Carta for Women, RA 7192 or Responsible Parenthood Reproductive Health Act, and RA 10361 or the Domestic Worker’s Act, among others.
He said international commitments on the Beijing Platform for Action, the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, the Sustainable Development Goals, coupled with the Philippine Development Plan’s focus on inclusive growth, have broadened discussions on the attainment of gender equality and social inclusion to include women’s economic empowerment, political participation and leadership, and violence against women.
Salceda pointed out that all these national and international development aspirations have also prompted the country to account for the contribution of the unremunerated work of women in the economy.