The Unseen Labor: How Women’s Domestic Work Keeps Society Running

Domestic work is often seen as less valuable than white-collared jobs. This thinking has reflected domestic work in several demeaning ways, from lack of recognition, and financial compensation, to the devaluation of their career choice as domestic workers, to the stereotype that domestic work is “women’s work”.

Society calls it “women’s work” as this work involves tasks that perform home maintenance and household care. Domestic work includes cleaning, laundry service, pet care, gardening, and care of children and dependents.

How society views domestic work as less valuable and “only suitable for women” comes from the longstanding gender stereotypes and traditional gender roles that associate women with domestic responsibilities while men should work outside the home. This limits the opportunities and possibilities for men and women to consider domestic work as a career, as it does not receive the same kind of respect and benefits as other work.

However, it is crucial to understand that the unseen labor of domestic work is essential for the functioning of families and society. People who do domestic work deserve respect, recognition, and fair compensation for their labor.

What Benefits Should Domestic Workers Receive?

Like all workers, domestic workers should have access to basic rights and benefits. Some of these benefits include:

  • Fair wages. Domestic workers should receive a fair wage for their labor. Employers should take into account the cost of living to support themselves and their families.
  • Paid work and vacation leaves. Workers should be entitled to have paid time off, including holidays and sick leave.
  • Social security. Domestic workers should have access to social security benefits such as retirement savings plans.
  • Safe working environment. Workers need to have a safe and healthy work environment and be free from harassment, abuse, and discrimination. Necessary training should also be given, so workers can carry out their work safely.
  • Labor rights protection and legal recognition. Domestic workers should have the same labor rights and protection as other workers. They should be recognized as workers under labor laws and other legal frameworks to have a safety net of legal protection.
  • Freedom association. Just like any worker, domestic workers have the right to form and join an organization and union that helps them protect their careers.

Beyond these benefits, domestic workers should also be treated with respect, dignity, and fairness. It is worth noting that these benefits would only come into place if society’s perception and attitude towards domestic work changed. If we keep on undervaluing stereotyping domestic work as a women-centric career, it would be detrimental to society. Let’s actively work to change this perception. 

Final Takeaway

Domestic work should not only be seen as “women’s work”. Men can also perform domestic work. However, society tells us that men should only do corporate jobs and only women are suitable for domestic work. Besides gender stereotyping, undervaluing and seeing domestic work as not a career limits the possibilities for men to consider domestic work. Society should reinforce that domestic work is a worthwhile endeavor.

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