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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  • 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
  • Sarita Pargi

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

    Devibai passes on care work burden to her 11 year old daughter when working on government employment scheme
  • Varsha TK

    Death of in-laws causes Varsha’s well being to spiral downwards
  • Durga Naikda

    Gendered and cultural norms restrict woman’s paid work mobility
  • Pratibha Garudi

    Balancing domestic work, care work and home-based work has caused Pratibha’s health to deteriorate
  • Seema Pargi

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

    Gendered division of responsibilities remains unchanged over generations, trapping Indumati and her daughter-in-law in a perpetual imbalance between care and paid work
  • Teesta Daabi

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

    Ruchika faces domestic violence despite contributing to the family business and her unpaid care work
  • Madhu Devi Damor

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

    Husband helps with care tasks, but with lack of essential public services, Divya’s family struggles to survive.