Plain housewives empowerment

Credit to Author: Tempo Desk| Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2019 16:30:25 +0000



THE world currently observes International Women’s Month this March. As usual, the celebration’s theme focuses on women’s empowerment and gender equality.

Indeed, despite tremen­dous gains in women’s welfare over the decades, women generally remain a notch lower than men in several aspects. Plain housewives or mothers who are compelled to re­main at home to attend to their young children and husbands comprise the most neglected women sector.

Common housewives, presently estimated at over 12 million, are not deemed part of the active labor force since they receive no pay and are generally considered “unproductive” or “doing nothing.” Conven­tional Economics regards “work that is not paid for, does not count as produc­tive labor.”

Stay-at-home mothers, however, perform vital tasks and contribute tremen­dously to society’s welfare. Aside from caring for their husbands, they take care of children, walk them to school, assist them in their school homework, manage meager family budget, do market shopping” and other domestic tasks.

To meaningfully empower common housewives, Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has filed House Bill 8875 which seeks to recognize the job of “stay-at-home mothers and housewives as valuable economic activity” and highlight their worth in nation-building. The mea­sure also seeks to provide token “payments for the housework they continue to bear out at home.”

A noted economist, Sal­ceda proposes to focus initially on women with at least one child under 12 years, and living be­low the poverty line and provide them 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.

HB 8875 proposes a P35-billion annual outlay for this social protection assis­tance program – P32 billion of which will go to married women, P3 billion to single mothers, widows, divor­cees, and others. Salceda said qualified housewives under the program deserve at least P2,000 monthly assistance, roughly equiva­lent to the minimum wage of a ‘kasambahay.”

Admittedly, this proposed program is not altogether new. We now have a con­ditional cash transfer law that provides monthly cash assistance to some 4.3 mil­lion marginalized families and another that extends unconditional R300-month­ly to some eight million more. From a macro-eco­nomic perspective, these cash transfers, all crafted by Salceda, help stir and pump prime the national economy.