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 KC

    Rukmini balances childcare and paid work since her husband migrated to Malaysia
  • Urmila Dhakal

    Access to skilled paid work and support from parents is essential to single mother Urmila
  • Ramkala BK

    Redistribution of care and paid work among family members enhancing Ramkala’s paid work options
  • Devibai Daabi

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

    Single mother Heema struggles to balance earning with caring for her three children
  • Suneetha G

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

    Collection of water is an uphill task for Sangeetha and her children
  • Rimkala BK

    Struggling to do it all as the head of household and primary carer
  • Seema Pargi

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

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

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

    Acute poverty forces 21-year-old Januka into multiple jobs, damaging her health
  • Shaila Pathan

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

    Lakshmi manages alone, and without regular remittances from her alcoholic migrant husband