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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  • Radhika BK

    Long hours of poorly paid work force Radhika to push care work onto her daughters
  • Sarita Kunwar

    Sarita’s husband encourages her to earn – but offers little help with the domestic chores
  • Durga Naikda

    Gendered and cultural norms restrict woman’s paid work mobility
  • Sangeetha Sohan Damra

    Collection of water is an uphill task for Sangeetha and her children
  • Gauri Mina

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

    Gita struggles to care for a congenitally ill child with a migrant husband
  • Sumita Sharma

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

    Caste norms restrict Sumitra’s earning options and prevent her daughters from helping her with household work
  • Malati BK

    Malati’s job leaves no time for childcare
  • Teesta Daabi

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

    Parents’ ill health puts children’s education at risk
  • Leena Dinesh

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

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