MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Saturday, July 30, 2022

Ask housewives for fair valuation of their worth, Putrajaya told


A housewife taking her children to school.

PETALING JAYA: Several women’s rights groups have criticised the government’s RM600 “presumed work value” of a housewife, saying it did not reflect the amount of work she does.

Jernell Tan of the All Women’s Action Society told the human resources ministry to explain how it arrived at such a meagre estimate.

She was commenting on a clause in the Housewives’ Social Security Bill 2022 (SKSSR) that mentions RM600 as the “presumed work value” of a housewife.

Under the bill, housewives who contribute to the scheme are entitled to medical benefits, permanent disability benefits, regular attendance allowance, survivor’s pension and funeral benefits.

The valuation came under fire from former deputy women, family and community development minister Hannah Yeoh, who described it as “insulting”.

Tan told FMT: “Being a housewife is a 24/7 vocation. This estimate is not just inappropriate. It is an abomination.”

She said the government should carry out a study to get a better picture of the contribution of housework to the national gross domestic product (GDP).

She said this was something that had been done in Vietnam.

In a policy brief, anti-poverty group ActionAid said that unpaid care work, which includes housework, contributed to more than 20% of the country’s GDP in 2015.

Engender Consultancy founder Omna Sreeni-Ong voiced a similar sentiment, saying the statistics department should carry out a comprehensive time-use survey to understand the realities faced by housewives.

“Beyond domestic chores and caregiving, a stay-at-home parent is tasked with driving, grocery shopping, cooking, paying bills, attending children’s school activities and caring for elders at home,” she said.

“All these tasks, if calculated, would be many times more than what is valued in the bill, which is RM20 per day.”

According to the United Nations Statistics Division, time-use statistics measure individuals’ time allocation to various activities over a specified period.

Tenaganita executive director Glorene Das, noting that domestic work is usually seen in terms of social value, said a survey was crucial if the government intended to put “a number on it”.

“Without such information, in the Malaysian context, the work of a housewife will continue to be undervalued,” she said. - FMT

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