Commuting is not even an option and there is no vacation. Like an old saying “I would rather work in the bean field in scorching heat rather than looking after a child,” it seems that working outside is much better. Skipping meals is not surprising when you have to clean whenever you have the time, do laundry and even prepare meals. Looking back my maternity leave, what was truly devastating was not the fact that housekeeping work was arduous but that there was no compensation. I am not talking about salaries. There was no compensation such as recognition. Thus, this leads to the remarks by British sociologist Ann Oakley, who wrote “The Sociology of Housework,” claiming that housework oppresses self-realization.
Statistics Korea evaluated the economic value of housework for the first time and announced it on Monday. When converging 59 different housework including child care, laundry and cleaning into money, housework was worth 352 trillion won per year, which is 24.3 percent of GDP. By making estimations based on this data, the value of housework was 1.9 million won per month for working six house per day with housework value of 10,569 won per hour. Of course, such amount of money is not enough to hire someone to take care of housework or a nanny but it is meaningful that productivity of housework has finally been recognized.
Up until now, women’s housework, which was not exchanged into currency, was regarded as unimportant work compared to men who work outside. The value of housework, however, was re-evaluated as a result of feminist movement in the 1960s and there has been recommendations to reflect un-paid housework into the government’s official statistics in the 1990s led by the World Conference on Women. The United Kingdom, France and Switzerland are drawing statistics, and Korea announced its figures for the first time this year.
The fact that the annual housework value per person was 10.77 million won for women and 34.7 million won for men implies that women engages in housework 3.1 times more than men. Annabel Crabb, writer of “The Wife Drought” claimed that wives are economic privileges by referring to the statistics that successful men have wives while it is rare for women to have wives (full-time husband). This may be the reason why women, working moms in particular, desire to have wives as well. Housework will be valued and qual exchange will only become possible when couples become “wife” each other and express gratitude and respect.
Kyung-Im Woo firstname.lastname@example.org