Recognition of housewives' work starts at home

Indeed, housewives are under-appreciated for the menial work that they do, despite playing an integral role in our society wherein family forms the backbone (Pay housewives a salary, by Mr Cheng Choon Fei, March 15).

They must be adequately recognised, especially given the physical, mental and emotional labour they undergo on a daily basis.

Many questions arise, however, when we talk about paying housewives a salary. How much exactly do they deserve? Should they be paid the same as maids or the amount they would potentially be earning if they were employed based on their educational qualifications?

If they are paid the same rate as maids, which is outrageously low, we risk cheapening their work. On the other hand, if they are paid what they rightfully would earn at the workplace, more women would then prefer to stay at home, and we would end up having to open up our workforce to even more foreigners.

If they were to be paid a salary, the authorities would probably have to consider if they take care of aged grandparents or children with special needs. They might even need to be paid more if the household is larger than that of the average Housing Board family.

Then again, is paying them a wage the only way of acknowledging their service?

If they were to be treated as conventional workers, they ought to be given leave and healthcare benefits and even be insured.

The work that they do is thankless but compensation for them is a highly subjective issue.

The acknowledgement that housewives deserve should come from the home. It could simply be through words of gratitude, an act of service or a simple gift. These little moments of recognition go a long way in driving them to continue doing the good work that they do.

We will never be able to attach a value to their good work because it truly is priceless.

The real recognition comes from their children growing up with good values and being independent and filial. This can never really be measured.

Julian Chris Lopez

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2019, with the headline 'Recognition of housewives' work starts at home'. Print Edition | Subscribe