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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  • Maya Daabi

    Maya struggles to take care of her child while working on government employment guarantee programme
  • Gita BK

    Gita struggles to care for a congenitally ill child with a migrant husband
  • Kamla Giri

    Parents’ ill health puts children’s education at risk
  • Gauri BK

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

    Gender norms means Rupa’s husband will go hungry rather than cook for himself
  • Suneetha G

    Dam construction wrecks havoc on Suneetha’s time
  • Sarita Pargi

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

    Her husband’s out-migration limits Bhuma’s paid work options
  • Manasa Hindor

    Manasa faces triple burden owing to no payment for employment guarantee scheme work
  • Sangeetha Sohan Damra

    Collection of water is an uphill task for Sangeetha and her children
  • Rukmini KC

    Rukmini balances childcare and paid work since her husband migrated to Malaysia
  • Menuka Dhital

    Menuka does back-breaking labour – carrying her infant son on her back
  • Kabita BK

    Gender norms restrict widow Kabita’s work options, making everyday life harder
  • Sarita Kunwar

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

    Widowed Swati prefers to migrate to brick kilns despite her children being deprived of schooling