Putting Price Tag on Unpaid Housework

Putting Price Tag  on Unpaid Housework Putting Price Tag  on Unpaid Housework

Vice-President for Women Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi said women’s economic contribution of household work will be taken into national accounts. “We have placed this task on the agenda and we believe this can help bring housewives under the insurance plan. We will make all efforts to define housekeeping as a job.”

Unpaid work mostly done by women in the home and as caregivers, remains excluded from national accounts, thus making these activities invisible in national statistics.

Women aren’t paid wages when they care for children, clean up houses or cook for the family. This informal work is not recognized by governments in national accounts like formal paid jobs. Yet the work women do in the home has a huge impact on the country’s economy. The inclusion of paid informal work in national accounts needs to be strengthened and it remains inadequately covered.

The lack of visibility of women’s economic contribution results in policies, which perpetuates economic, social and political inequities between women and women. If you are invisible as a producer in a nation’s economy, you are invisible in the distribution of benefits. Unpaid work in Canada had an estimated value of 33% of the GDP (1998) with nearly two-thirds of this unpaid work done by women. Several techniques of measuring and evaluating unpaid work exist and some countries like Canada are using these techniques to estimate value of unpaid work.

 Under Review

“We aim to develop a plan to evaluate housework by the end of this year (March 21, 2015). At present the plan is under review and we are aiming to gather statistics from the surveys conducted in this area so far,” the vice-president said quoted by the Iranian Labor News Agency.

At present, there are two opposite views to the plan: those who oppose the plan believe that valuation of housework will lead to entry of economic demands into family life while its advocates are agreed that economic estimation of housework will benefit the country, as it can increase the ranking in per capita income among other global nations.

“Comprehensive review on this issue is needed. Our deadline is the end of this calendar year, but may be extended as it is a time consuming process,” Molaverdi said.

Housework is usually considered “as women’s task in the socio-cultural contexts.” To change such attitudes we need to culturally prepare the society,” said Aliakbar Mirabi, a psychiatrist.


“For payment of housewives’ work, ‘salary’ from the husband is not suitable, as many women may not accept it due to cultural reasons; therefore in the Majlis (parliament) other methods have been proposed,” said Fatemeh Alia, a lawmaker.

“Two methods can be utilized to finance the plan. Men can contribute a specific amount of money into a fund when they marry. In the case of state-run organizations, a certain amount can be deducted periodically from employees’ salaries to be transferred to women’s account. In this way women can receive their salaries in a dignified manner and without the need to refer to their spouses.” She also pointed to women-headed households and widowed women and said with the implementation of the plan, these vulnerable groups can receive salary as well.

At present, the draft plan has been developed and it is expected to be financed by the government after discussions in the parliament.