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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  • Aradhna Parmar

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

    Irregular and low-wage construction work adversely impacts Malavika’s children
  • Roshni Mimroth

    Rolling incense sticks and looking after younger siblings affects 12 year old girl’s school attendance
  • Shaila Pathan

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

    Long hours of poorly paid work force Radhika to push care work onto her daughters
  • Prema Ajnave

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

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

    Struggling to do it all as the head of household and primary carer
  • Bhuma BK

    Her husband’s out-migration limits Bhuma’s paid work options
  • Leena Dinesh

    Lack of affordable creche forces 80 year old grandmother to care for twin grandchildren
  • Rupa BK

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

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

    Decent paid work would help Jayanti balance the demands on her time
  • Seema Pargi

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

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