Invisible Labour And A Silent Homewrecker

Nazakat Aslam

As the first light of dawn filters through the curtains, Rabiya is already immersed in the household chores. From swiftly preparing breakfast to meticulously packing lunches and ensuring her children are ready for school, her morning unfolds in a blur of activity. Yet, as the day progresses, her responsibilities seem to multiply with no respite in sight. Rabiya’s narrative resonates with countless women across the globe whose tireless contributions to their households often go unnoticed highlighting the prevalence of invisible labor.

Invisible labor covers tasks and responsibilities tackled within a household that often go unnoticed and unacknowledged. These tasks include but are not limited to cooking, cleaning, childcare, emotional support, and administrative duties. Despite being indispensable for the smooth functioning of a household, invisible labor tends to be undervalued and attributed to traditional gender roles.

This issue of unrecognized contributions of women in household tasks is particularly significant as it perpetuates gender inequalities and reinforces stereotypes. Women, especially mothers and wives, are expected to perform these tasks without recognition leading to feelings of frustration, exhaustion, and unfulfillment.

Ignoring or undervaluing invisible labor can have detrimental consequences for women, particularly in terms of their mental health and overall well-being. Women, especially those who bear the brunt of household chores, often experience increased stress and burnout due to the constant pressure to meet societal expectations and maintain a balance between their personal and professional lives.

The constant juggling of multiple responsibilities can lead to feelings of exhaustion, frustration, and resentment, which can negatively impact their mental health. Women may experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues as a result of the emotional toll of unrecognized labor.

Building upon the issue of unrecognized contributions of women in household tasks, it becomes evident that addressing gender inequalities requires the active involvement of men as well. While women often bear the burden of these responsibilities without recognition, men too are affected by traditional gender roles that limit their participation in caregiving and household management.

In Islamic teachings, the responsibility of nurturing loved ones and managing household tasks is not specifically designated for women, despite the fact that they often possess the strength and capability to fulfill these duties. Nowhere in the Quran or the Sunnah is it explicitly stated that women are solely responsible for tasks like dishwashing or cleaning.

In fact, numerous ahadith illustrate the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) active involvement in household chores. When asked about the Prophet’s activities at home, Aisha (RA), his wife, stated that He (PBUH) actively served his family, engaging in tasks such as mending sandals, patching garments, and sewing, alongside his prayers.

These ahadith do not merely suggest that the Prophet (PBUH) “helped” around the house, implying that it was someone else’s primary responsibility. Rather, they affirm that He (PBUH) personally engaged in housework, demonstrating care and nurturing for his family without considering such tasks beneath his dignity.

Islam does not assign gender-specific roles for household duties; instead, it emphasizes shared responsibility and mutual support within the family. Some interpretations even advocate for compensating wives who undertake the roles of cooking and housekeeping, acknowledging the value and effort involved in their contributions.

Active participation in caregiving is undeniably crucial for men’s overall well-being. Research from Harvard Study of Adult Development, spanning over 75 years and involving 724 men, underscores the significance of nurturing relationships. The study reveals that the quality of relationships, particularly at age 55, can predict longevity emphasizing the profound impact of interpersonal connections.

Engaging in childcare and household tasks not only fosters active and involved parenthood but develops a sense of appreciation and genuine respect. By challenging societal norms and embracing shared responsibilities within the household, both men and women can work towards creating more equitable and fulfilling relationships

Women are frequently lauded as exemplary mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters, yet what often escapes recognition is the toll that these roles may exact on them. It’s imperative for society to grasp that the issue isn’t merely lack of appreciation, but rather the tendency to overlook their contributions entirely. With their inherently nurturing nature, women instinctively tend to the needs of their families. However, this inherent quality does not diminish the significance of their actions; rather, it underscores the importance of acknowledging and expressing gratitude for their invaluable efforts.


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