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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  • Durga Naikda

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

    Drudgery, danger and gender norms exacerbate Rupa's daily struggle
  • Kamla Giri

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

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

    Widowed Parvati rolls incense sticks while older mother goes for factory work to support their family
  • Heema Raut

    Single mother Heema struggles to balance earning with caring for her three children
  • Shaila Pathan

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

    Devibai passes on care work burden to her 11 year old daughter when working on government employment scheme
  • Sangeetha Sohan Damra

    Collection of water is an uphill task for Sangeetha and her children
  • Gyanu Giri

    Cultural norms keep Gyanu in the kitchen
  • Asha Khatri

    Teenaged mother of two struggles to earn and care with little help
  • Bhuma BK

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

    Struggling to do it all as the head of household and primary carer
  • Madhu Devi Damor

    Madhu’s paid work necessitates older mother-in-law and younger sister-in-law to step in for care work
  • Sunita Dangi

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