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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  • Leena Dinesh

    Lack of affordable creche forces 80 year old grandmother to care for twin grandchildren
  • Hema Bai

    Pregnant worker on government employment guarantee scheme, Hema Bai, struggles against discrimination and drudgery
  • Rupa BK

    Drudgery, danger and gender norms exacerbate Rupa's daily struggle
  • Januka BK

    Acute poverty forces 21-year-old Januka into multiple jobs, damaging her health
  • Ruchika Pardhi

    Ruchika faces domestic violence despite contributing to the family business and her unpaid care work
  • Malavika Gaur

    Irregular and low-wage construction work adversely impacts Malavika’s children
  • Mankumari Oli

    A migrant husband leaves Mankumari juggling care with cooperative work
  • Gyanu Giri

    Cultural norms keep Gyanu in the kitchen
  • Ramkala BK

    Redistribution of care and paid work among family members enhancing Ramkala’s paid work options
  • Sumita Sharma

    Sumita’s young children help their mother roll incense sticks in the absence of decent work opportunities and limited child care options
  • Manjari Rajkumar

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

    Single mother Heema struggles to balance earning with caring for her three children
  • Devibai Daabi

    Devibai passes on care work burden to her 11 year old daughter when working on government employment scheme
  • Kamla Giri

    Parents’ ill health puts children’s education at risk
  • Suneetha G

    Dam construction wrecks havoc on Suneetha’s time