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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  • Kusum BK

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

    Pushpa’s Herculean effort: balancing care work, paid work and studies
  • Suneetha G

    Dam construction wrecks havoc on Suneetha’s time
  • 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
  • Sangeetha Sohan Damra

    Collection of water is an uphill task for Sangeetha and her children
  • Divya Pargi

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

    Drudgery, danger and gender norms exacerbate Rupa's daily struggle
  • Menuka Dhital

    Menuka does back-breaking labour – carrying her infant son on her back
  • Devibai Daabi

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

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

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

    Redistribution of care and paid work among family members enhancing Ramkala’s paid work options
  • Rimkala BK

    Struggling to do it all as the head of household and primary carer
  • Teesta Daabi

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