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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  • Kabita BK

    Gender norms restrict widow Kabita’s work options, making everyday life harder
  • Sumitra Khatri

    Caste norms restrict Sumitra’s earning options and prevent her daughters from helping her with household work
  • Pushpa Khatri

    Pushpa’s Herculean effort: balancing care work, paid work and studies
  • Manasa Hindor

    Manasa faces triple burden owing to no payment for employment guarantee scheme work
  • Rupa BK

    Drudgery, danger and gender norms exacerbate Rupa's daily struggle
  • Urmila Dhakal

    Access to skilled paid work and support from parents is essential to single mother Urmila
  • Simran Rakesh

    Lack of public care support for adult dependents consigns Simran to rolling incense sticks
  • Leena Dinesh

    Lack of affordable creche forces 80 year old grandmother to care for twin grandchildren
  • Malavika Gaur

    Irregular and low-wage construction work adversely impacts Malavika’s children
  • Bhuma BK

    Her husband’s out-migration limits Bhuma’s paid work options
  • Ramkala BK

    Redistribution of care and paid work among family members enhancing Ramkala’s paid work options
  • Shaila Pathan

    Lack of decent paid work opportunities results in precarious income levels for Shaila’s all-female household
  • Varsha TK

    Death of in-laws causes Varsha’s well being to spiral downwards
  • Sumita Sharma

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

    Gauri prefers to leave children home than be ‘kept in a pit’ at MGNREGA worksites