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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  • Seema Pargi

    Young boy pulled out of school to help his mother Seema with care tasks in mainly male family
  • Prema Ajnave

    Gendered norms on care and mobility constrain Prema to do anything but low paid home-based work
  • Durga Naikda

    Gendered and cultural norms restrict woman’s paid work mobility
  • Leena Dinesh

    Lack of affordable creche forces 80 year old grandmother to care for twin grandchildren
  • Sangeetha Sohan Damra

    Collection of water is an uphill task for Sangeetha and her children
  • Ruchika Pardhi

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

    Rukmini is able to send her children to a private school through good returns from stitching bags at home
  • Maya Daabi

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

    Manasa faces triple burden owing to no payment for employment guarantee scheme work
  • Simran Rakesh

    Lack of public care support for adult dependents consigns Simran to rolling incense sticks
  • Shaila Pathan

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

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

    Death of in-laws causes Varsha’s well being to spiral downwards
  • Teesta Daabi

    Teesta and her teenage daughters walk long distances to fetch water after long and arduous days on construction sites
  • Swati Balai

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