In a path-breaking judgment, Allahabad High Court has equated a housewife with any other earning member. This was important specially when it came to deciding the compensation for insurance of a housewife who was killed in a road accident.
The Allahabad high court has upheld that a married woman as a housewife and mother usually puts in more hours of work for the family than the earning members of the family and their contribution should not be considered any less. The court upheld that the work of a homemaker must be assigned value in terms of money for working out compensation to the remaining family members who are dependents on services provided by her and her contribution to the family. (link)
However, if the worth of any family member is looked at only from the standpoint of the money s/he earns and if we, as a society, are going to put a value to the work of a housewife, then at some point, she might start to get treated like a paid employee itself. Here is something that Sadhguru Jaggi says:
The most basic structure of the social unit is the family. Fortunately so far, the government has had the wisdom to stay away, keep their hands off the family, because they know they will mess it up. But it looks like now they want to enter your family in the guise of giving justice to women. You need to understand one thing, if a woman is paid for the chores that she does at home, she can also be fired. No divorce is needed. She is not cooking properly, fire her tomorrow morning. The next day you can hire somebody else. The sanctity of what it means to be a family will disappear. Not just the husband, even the children will ask, “Well, you are being paid, why are you not doing this?” The sanctity of being a wife, the sanctity of being a mother, the sanctity of being a feminine presence in the family, all this will be ruined and she will be reduced to a paid-for maid. The worst possible vocabulary could be used in this scenario. It is nobody’s business to enter a family and say how it should be run. The laws are on the street and not inside one’s home. That is a place where nobody should meddle except the people who live there.
There is this socially powered sentiment of “feminism”, but one probably needs to look at it from a broader angle. Does such things work for a family or relationships?
In my view, it required growing up of men and empowering of women in ways that don’t necessarily borrow from the West, but from a decidedly Eastern sentiment.