From Francis Owusu-Ansah, Sunyani .
Women in the Brong-Ahafo Region have proposed a bill that would make it compulsory for husbands to pay their ‘housewives’ a monthly salary for doing household chores.
According to them, if they are to stay at home and do household chores, then the state ought to make it mandatory for their husbands to pay a certain percentage of their total income to their wives.
“The said payment could be referred to as an ‘honorarium’ or something similar,” the women suggested.
In a simple survey conducted by Action Aid Ghana in some remote districts of the Brong-Ahafo Region, the women said their roles as home keepers meant they are entitled to wages or salaries.
“If the work had to be provided at market rates, the cost would run into thousands of Ghana cedis a year,” they argued.
According to the survey, “a model should be designed which would allow for valuation of the work done by house wives in economic terms, and then recognition of this contribution to the economy done by compensating housewives for their labour.”
The women further argue that they are “home engineers” because they cook, wash, care for new born babies, sweep and clean among others, while the men would be out engaging in paid activities.
The women said unlike the urban centres where most wives are career women and their husbands engage the services of cooks and cleaners for them, who are paid at the end of every month, in the rural communities the case is different.
“Women work from morning till late in the night, and yet, earn nothing in compensation; the situation is too bad for modern women and the trend must change,” the women said.
In a media interaction in Sunyani, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Programme Director of Action Aid Ghana, Mr Tontie Binado, noted that he sees the proposal as a positive development in women’s empowerment.
Media practitioners at the sensitisation programme felt that “measuring the value of unpaid work at home is conceptually correct and worth trying,” though making it mandatory for husbands to pay out monthly salaries to wives for their work may be the wrong way forward.
The media practitioners argue that the intention behind such a proposal might be a noble one – to financially empower women who stay at home.
The problem, however, is how to put a ‘price tag’ on all the work that goes on within a home, and how such a proposals would be implemented, given the various questions that are sure to come up in its wake.
The Chronicle has gathered from a cross section of the people that that the proposal would create new financial skirmishes between wives and husbands, since it would appear like an employee/employer relationship to the married couple.
The media practitioners at the engagement believe that even when women do the same professional jobs as men, often earning more than them, they still end up doing all the household work such as cooking, cleaning, washing, etc.
“Such house work is considered beneath the dignity of men, even though they share the same household,” they argued.