'My Mother Does a Lot of Work': Women Balancing Paid and Unpaid Care Work in Tanzania
Tanzanian women spend more time overall than men on unpaid care work activities, and less on cash-earning work. This report presents the findings of research conducted in Tanzania as part of the ‘Balancing unpaid care work and paid work: successes, challenges and lessons for women’s economic empowerment programmes and policies’ research project. In particular, it reflects the voices and experiences of women and their household members who live across four rural districts in the Tanga region.
The study finds that women in the region shoulder the majority of unpaid care work responsibilities, and struggle to balance these with paid work. Women therefore suffer the drudgery and physical and psychosocial stress of juggling paid work with unpaid work. Reasons for this include:
- the persistence of gender norms about who should do care work;
- the lack of public services essential to both the care and paid economies; and
- the low incomes earned by both women and men in these impoverished communities.
The study highlights that intervention is needed to support a rebalancing of unpaid care with paid work. This could be achieved through: improved working conditions and pay; provision of childcare; public water or fuel services; gender-sensitive infrastructural development; and efforts to address gender-unequal social norms and values that proscribe the redistribution of care.
'My Work Never Ends': Women Balancing Paid Work and Unpaid Care Work in India
Research showed that women’s paid work experiences were shaped by a number of factors, including: care responsibilities, social norms on women’s work; the lack of decent work options; the poor working conditions of paid work available; as well as the support structures that were available to them at the levels of family, community, employer and the state. Women performed the majority of care work tasks, with responsibility determined by an interplay of sticky gender norms and poverty conditions. There was a strong correlation between the availability of and access to public resources and services and the intensity and drudgery of care tasks as well as their experiences of paid work.
There are many positive gender- and care-responsive features of both WEE programmes. However, it clear that the existing WEE programmes have more to accomplish in order to create a ‘double boon’ for women workers. The research makes recommendations at state and non-state levels in order to make women’s economic empowerment optimal, shared across families and sustained across generations
'You Cannot Live Without Money': Women Balancing Paid Work and Unpaid Care Work in Rwanda
Rwanda's recent history has seen a variety of government and non-government programmes that have helped increase women’s political participation, awareness of rights and access to finance, and women’s involvement in off-farm activities and other forms of paid work, particularly in rural areas. However, balancing paid and unpaid work remains a daunting task for the majority of women surveyed in this research study. Those who are struggling to achieve a positive balance between paid work and care work find it is due to working long hours, far from home, with little or no childcare support.
The report argues that despite men being encouraged to become more involved in care activities, there is a need for advocacy at the household level about sharing care activities. In particular: men need to support women with agricultural cultivation and household tasks. There is also an emphasis on the need for redistribution of care responsibilities from families to other actors: Women expressed a desire for help from the community for care of the children; and more childcare centres to be set up by the state and NGOs to enable them to go to paid work. They would also benefit from the government providing health insurance and assistance with housing and children’s education, especially for families living in poverty. This report provides evidence on the need for creation of quality work to be nearer home, and for practical improvements in stoves and water delivery in order to ease the drudgery of the care responsibilities on women.
A Trapeze Act: Women Balancing Paid Work and Unpaid Care Work in Nepal
Despite high rates of labour force participation by women in Nepal, there has been very little engagement by communities and the state on the issue of women’s ‘double burden’ of balancing unpaid care work with paid labour activities. The ‘Balancing paid work and unpaid care work – Nepal’ research study aims to create knowledge about how women’s economic empowerment (WEE) policy and programming can generate a ‘double boon’, i.e. paid work that empowers women and provides more support to their unpaid care work responsibilities. Research discussed in this report looks at two WEE programmes in Nepal: (1) a state programme, the Karnali Employment Programme; and (2) a non-state programme, Oxfam Nepal’s Enterprise Development Programme.
One of the stark conclusions of the study is that women are currently unable to balance their paid and unpaid care work due to several factors: the lack of availability of decent employment opportunities in rural areas; a lack of quality public resources and services; migration of men; a lack of assets such as land; and prevailing gender norms, especially around women’s participation in unpaid care work and mobility. The report makes recommendations at state, non-state, market, community and family levels. Programmes aimed at women’s empowerment need to have a care perspective in their design and implementation, and grass-roots-level communication and advocacy needs to be encouraged and implemented, in order to reduce women’s ‘double burden’ and move towards a’ double boon’.