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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  • Madhu Devi Damor

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

    Kusum ‘stretches time’ to manage care for three small children and back-breaking labour
  • Gauri Mina

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

    12th grade educated Shashikala faces discrimination at paid work while coping with household tensions
  • Gita BK

    Gita struggles to care for a congenitally ill child with a migrant husband
  • Rupa BK

    Gender norms means Rupa’s husband will go hungry rather than cook for himself
  • Kamla Giri

    Parents’ ill health puts children’s education at risk
  • Divya Pargi

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

    Single mother Heema struggles to balance earning with caring for her three children
  • Ruchika Pardhi

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

    Cultural norms keep Gyanu in the kitchen
  • Manjari Rajkumar

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

    Menuka does back-breaking labour – carrying her infant son on her back
  • Sumita Sharma

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

    Jamuna feels overwhelmed with paid and unpaid work responsibilities