Balancing unpaid care work and paid work: Case studies

As part of the Balancing unpaid care work and paid work project, we present 126 short case studies revealing the diverse lived experiences of women endeavouring to balance the tensions between paid work and their unpaid care work responsibilities.

Currently there is little evidence on the social organisation of care – particularly the relationships and norms governing care work (including care of people and housework) within low income families in developing countries. This work aims to help bridge this gap; in addition to providing new knowledge on the ill-understood relationships between women’s paid work and unpaid care work. 

The case studies provide powerful examples of how women attempt to negotiate care work when they enter paid work; and how care work shapes the kind of paid work they are engaged in. 

The hope is that this information will help support the development of appropriate policy and programming aimed at women’s economic empowerment. It is not just about getting women into the labour market, but making sure their participation is optimised, shared across families, and sustained across generations. 

The case studies are from four countries: India, Nepal, Rwanda and Tanzania; and across 16 sites (4 sites in each of the countries). Initially 64 cases from India and Nepal have been published.

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  • Seema Pargi

    Young boy pulled out of school to help his mother Seema with care tasks in mainly male family
  • Reema Kotwal

    SEWA member Reema is able to send her children to private school, but works hard without any rest.
  • Simran Rakesh

    Lack of public care support for adult dependents consigns Simran to rolling incense sticks
  • Sarita Kunwar

    Sarita’s husband encourages her to earn – but offers little help with the domestic chores
  • Gauri BK

    Gender norms affecting Gauri’s capacity to care and to earn
  • Rimkala BK

    Struggling to do it all as the head of household and primary carer
  • Rukmini KC

    Rukmini balances childcare and paid work since her husband migrated to Malaysia
  • Bhuma BK

    Her husband’s out-migration limits Bhuma’s paid work options
  • Durga Naikda

    Gendered and cultural norms restrict woman’s paid work mobility
  • Kabita BK

    Gender norms restrict widow Kabita’s work options, making everyday life harder
  • Sita Karki

    Entrepreneurial Sita struggles with childcare
  • Sharmila Oli

    What needs to change: suggestions from Sharmila, seed-selling mother of three
  • Manjari Rajkumar

    18-year old Manjari gets no time to rest, whether she is at the brick kilns or at her home
  • Durga BK

    Durga struggles to earn and care for her two small children
  • Sarita Pargi

    Poverty, alcoholism and absence of public services exacerbates the double burden that Sarita and her children have to bear