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As India battles the world’s worst virus outbreak, some key political parties are promising an unprecedented monthly payment to all homemakers in a bid to win crucial state elections.

If enacted, the stipends would be some of the first in the world to specifically address women’s unpaid labor, which economists estimate accounts for up to 39% of global gross domestic product and is often absent from official statistics. They would also represent a major cultural shake-up in a nation where women are overwhelmed with domestic duties and their participation in the workforce is among the lowest on the planet — a predicament exacerbated by COVID-19.

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