Press Statement by Chong Eng, Penang EXCO for Social Development & State Assemblywoman for Padang Lalang on Labour Day, 1/5/21:
Consider economic value of housework to recognise homemakers’ contribution
We celebrate Labour Day to mark the contribution of workers, both men and women, in the workforce.
It is a public holiday where all workers are supposed to celebrate their right.
But this is not the case for homemakers, mainly women who are stay-at-home mothers.
While we pay cleaners, babysitters and others for the services, home makers are not.
House chores are not recognised as `productive’ in economic term and not included in gross domestic product (GDP).
A woman who works in office contributes to GDP but not work done by a homemaker.
For their role extending support to men and other women in the workforce and therefore contribute to the GDP, work done by home makers are taken for granted without any form of acknowledgement.
It is not uncommon for some women to give up their career and financial independence to be homemakers to care for their children and family.
Providing economic value to housework is one way of recognising homemakers’ contribution.
Let us acknowledge homemakers’ contribution on Labour Day for supporting others to work.
The current perception of equating homemakers to unproductive work should be changed as they are raising the next generation of the workforce for the country.
They are the hands that rock the cradle.
It also serves as a reminder for all to create a more conducive environment for working mothers who juggle between work and family.
The issue of gender equality crops up here as working mothers play the role as multi-taskers at work and home.
A conducive environment for working mothers is a giant leap to narrowing gender inequality.
There are many ways to do so, such as offer women the salary that the men receive for similar position at workplace, set up childcare services at workplace, longer paternity leave, sharing of housework at home and others.
By placing women at par with the men, the latter is not a lesser man but the recognition would be a reward for women and a win-win for both.
Happy Labour Day and stay safe.