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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  • Gyanu Giri

    Cultural norms keep Gyanu in the kitchen
  • Gauri BK

    Gender norms affecting Gauri’s capacity to care and to earn
  • Manasa Hindor

    Manasa faces triple burden owing to no payment for employment guarantee scheme work
  • Suneetha G

    Dam construction wrecks havoc on Suneetha’s time
  • Sita Karki

    Entrepreneurial Sita struggles with childcare
  • Kabita BK

    Gender norms restrict widow Kabita’s work options, making everyday life harder
  • Lakshmi BK

    Lakshmi manages alone, and without regular remittances from her alcoholic migrant husband
  • Pushpa Khatri

    Pushpa’s Herculean effort: balancing care work, paid work and studies
  • Durga BK

    Durga struggles to earn and care for her two small children
  • Januka BK

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

    Sunita juggles a new baby with work and care responsibilities – while her husband goes to college
  • Manjari Rajkumar

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

    Malati’s job leaves no time for childcare
  • Gauri Mina

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

    Aradhna wishes she could spend more time with her daughters instead of making them help her in care activities