ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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On Valuing Women’s Housework

All Work, No Pay

In a judgment delivered on 5 January 2021, the Supreme Court of India emphasised the importance of fixing a monetary value for the housework done by women as homemakers. This article analyses the contemporary developments in this regard, through economic, legal and feminist perspectives. The article argues that in line with judicial precedents, the present judgment provides an impetus to value the labour and services of homemakers, which would give such work the much-needed social recognition and value. It further argues that while it is a welcome trend to attribute a pecuniary value to homemakers’ services after their demise, for purposes of determining quantum of compensation, a similar approach is warranted in matrimonial disputes in determining alimony and in dividing matrimonial property.

 

The Supreme Court of India in its recent judgment in Kirti and Anr Etc v Oriental Insurance Company Ltd (henceforth Kirti) brought the issue of the valuation of homemakers’ “services” to the forefront of discussion and debate.1 In line with the judgments of the higher judiciary in the past two decades, in Kirti, Justice N V Ramana, in his separate concurring opinion, concluded that the grant of compensation, on a pecuniary basis, with respect to a homemaker, is a settled proposition in law.2 These judgments have come at a time when there are demands for changing the conventional measurement of national income to include non-market goods and leisure. Further, social expectation from wives and mothers voluntarily doing housework remains high along with increasing informalisation of female labour and feminisation of poverty.

Valuing Homemaker’s Services

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Updated On : 24th Apr, 2021

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