Irene Nakalema Muwanga, 35, a mother of four, gets a monthly salary of Shs250,000 from her husband Brian Muwanga, even though she is also employed as a cleaner Allied and Tech Engineers. She believes she deserves to receive an additional pay of not less than Shs200,000 for the housework she does in addition to her day job, for it too takes up so much of her time and energy. “I’m certain my husband would ultimately quit his formal job to concentrate on housework if it was his responsibility. It is hectic and time wasting. We women who do housework surely deserve pay for this,” Nakalema argues.
This too was the outcry of the Gender Ministry in November last year, whose officials said there was a need to balance the sheet by paying women for the work they do. According to the Principal Gender Officer, Mubarak Mabuye, issues like unpaid family work, children care-taking and managing the entire household deserve a pay. “Housework and care taking contribute greatly to the economy. If all is not well at home, the zeal to do office work will deteriorate and, as a result, we shall have low output hence affecting the economy,” Mabuye explains. And such seems to be the mindset of most housewives who say payment for house work must be made compulsory for each husband.
The payment terms
Janet Kasule, an accountant and a mother of two, says each housewife should earn at least Shs200,000 for the efforts they invest in housework. She argues, “The fact that it denies you the social life which you sacrifice at the cost of looking after the children while the husband stays out long to have fun with his friends, there is surely need for a pay.” But Margaret Odal, a 35-year-old mother of four, says payments should be dependent on how much one’s husband earns. What a woman needs, according to Odal, is about 20 per cent of her husband’s salary as pay for the housework, as she explains, “Beyond that, it would be exploitation.”
Most men, however, believe that whether it is one per cent or 100 per cent of their salary, payment of housework is sheer robbery. 36-year-old Noman Katungi is among these men. The father to two says there is no need for housewives to demand for pay since they already receive appreciation in form of gifts, money, love and respect from their husbands.
The major argument against the preposition is that a family is complete only when everyone plays their role as obliged by nature. Milton Kamoti, 49, a Business Development Manager with Depo Uganda and married with children says he considers his wife a friend, not a worker and for such a relationship to be maintained, the mindset of paying her housework should not emerge.
He says that the strongest bond in marriage is love, not money, “Money can never be enough to satisfy anyone and even when paid, wives will still demand money for other activities, particularly incase problems crop up in the family or at her home,” Kamoti says, arguing negatively against the proposed housework pay. And Justus Katungi says that the argument could be based on the fact that housegirls are paid. However this should not call for a pay since housegirls do work while housewives do their duties.
“It is their obligation to do housework while it is men’s obligation to fend for the home. We do not need to be paid for our duties/obligations. They are just a must do, it is nature’s fate for us,” argues Katungi.
Even as plans are underway to have this proposal turned into law, there seems to be many forces against and for it. However, the trick still remains in how the entire exercise will be monitored for efficiency.
Other Ugandans opposing the move argue that these are a woman’s natural duties, as it is for men to fend for the home, protect the family, among others in their fatherly requirements. Shouldn’t men then get paid too? Winifred Masiko, The skills Gallery Consulting Group proprietor and a mother, says that such a move is a near-to-madness move since equating a woman’s work to money is demeaning to the female sex.
She says roles like giving birth and taking care of children cannot be paid by any amount of money. Instead the best pay for any house work and care taking roles is respect and love. Masiko says instead of demanding for pay, they should join hands to work together with their husbands for development, “We need one another. Women contribute greatly in raising the family, something that cannot be equated to any amount of money, so all we need is to be supportive of each other, not to demand for pay.”
At the “Making Every Man and Woman Count for Better Development Outcomes” conference in November last year where the issue was discussed, it was agreed this cannot be implemented if the statistics are not in place. Jane Mpagi, the director for Gender and Community Development in the Ministry of Gender, said the Government could come in handy when it came to if there are statistics or figures for the house wives.
Mpagi said these could play a big role in guiding Government on how to enforce the proposed recommendations of payment for house work.
And with statistics on numbers of housewives, Mpagi says the ministry could easily trace down and monitor men who did not meet this requirement to pay their wives.
The advocate of the proposed regulation to pay wives for housework done, Jane Mpagi, is a director in the Ministry of Gender. A married woman and mother of five, Mpagi says wives deserve pay because the work they do contributes greatly to the economy. She spoke to Full Woman.
Why do you raise such an argument of paying housewives for their natural duty?
My argument is rooted in the fact that housewives are usually classified in the non-working lot and their work is never computed or considered useful to the country. The women work in the care economy, nurturing children, caring for family members and the sick, and working for a minimum of 16 hours. When this work is done by other people like housemaids, nurses, day care centres and the like, they earn for it. But the housewife who does all this work is considered non-working.
And who will then be mandated to effect the payment? The men?
The major issue is not in payment, rather, we should first endeavour to recognise their work, to make sure that the work counts. If all this housework was computed, people would realise that the women are contributing greatly to the Gross Domestic Product. Then, we can then bring on table the “how much” and “who pays”. Such “rewards” empower women economically and economic empowerment is the beginning of women empowerment.
There is need to streamline all these issues and as long as Government recognises the women’s efforts, the spouses and the entire public will recognise the efforts of housekeeping.
Don’t you think this would intensify the issue of domestic violence, making the women more of commodities or servants for men, easily interchangeable, for the next best housewife, just like other employees?
No. This will only better the situation because women’s efforts in doing housework will be recognised, rewarded and respected. This would therefore mean, economic empowerment, which is the beginning of women’s empowerment, and I will always be a part of any move to have women placed in better positions in the world. This will promote mutual respect and non-violence in relationships, which is everyone’s responsibility.
Wouldn’t it only be fair then that the men also receive pay for their fatherly roles of taking care of their families?
I have no comment on that issue, let us first deal with computing housework, to make it count, and the rest shall fall in line.