Depalgaon, Jumla

Case study

Ramkala BK

Redistribution of care and paid work among family members enhancing Ramkala’s paid work options
The work site is very far. I wish such work were nearby. It would be better if they gave us good tools themselves...I always get worried if the child will fall, if there were a place to keep the child, we could have worked without any worry

Ramkala  BK,  40,  belongs  to  a  remote  village  of  Jumla  district,  Nepal.  She  lives  with  her  five daughters,  a  son-in-law  and  a  two  year-old  grandson.  Her  husband  died  a  year  back  in  an accident.  Her  eldest  daughter  is  married  whereas; the  youngest  daughter  is  three  years  old.  The remaining  three  daughters  go  to  school.  The  eldest  daughter  and  her  husband  work  as  wage laborers.

Ramkala is a worker in Karnali Employment Program (KEP). She had attended 10 days of work following which; the workers were given a break for a month to do plantation work in the field. Her  responsibilities  in  KEP  mainly  include  carrying  stones  and  soil.  The  work  is  intensive  and physically challenging for Ramkala.

Sometimes my back hurts, sometimes my head aches, sometimes I used to cut my hand...when I come from work, my body is exhausted.  

Because  of  the  absence  of  childcare  provisions  at  the  workplace,  Ramkala  mostly  leaves  her daughter at home with her eldest daughter. On few occasions, she and her daughter went together to   KEP site taking   their   respective   children   while   working   and   taking   care   of   them simultaneously.  

We (daughter and I) go together and take our turn. When I worked, she looked after the children and when she worked, I did.

Besides KEP work, Ramkala also cultivates and sells vegetables on a small scale.  She also used to  crush  stones  and  sell  firewood  but  has  discontinued  lately after  her  daughter  and  son-in-law have started working.

While carrying heavy load, my back hurts, my legs hurt. I do not carry firewood much these days. My daughter does. There is not much difficulty in growing vegetables, we have to dig and keep watering the plants, just that.  

Ramkala and her eldest daughter perform  most of the care activities at home. While Ramkala  is responsible  for  taking  care  of  livestock,  cleaning,  fetching  water  and  working  on  the  farm,  her eldest daughter cooks and goes to the forest to collect forest and firewood. The second daughter also  occasionally  helps  in  cooking  and  fetching  water  when  her  elder  sister  or  mother is  not home. The son-in-law Sriram occasionally helps in cooking and taking care of children when the women  are  not  present.  Like  other  men,  Sriram  helps  in  ploughing  the  field. The  presence  of son-in-law has filled the space of a male figure in Ramkala’s family. 

What can be done...If my husband were here, we would have divided the work. He could at least plough the land. He would have earned money. I did not have to work so hard. It is a lot easier because of my daughter and son-in-law’s presence. If there is a male member, it becomes easier to manage work. He is both our son and son-in-law. Our life is sad like this.

Ramkala  has  been  able  to  cover  the  expenses  of  children’s  education  and  daily  household expense through her income. But it is not adequate because of the low-wage and sporadic nature of work she is involved in.

What earning, if we had jobs, if we were educated then we could say we earn, people like us who do wage laborers, what earnings do we have? It is just to meet our food expenses and stationary items for the girls.

While  her  son-in-law  and  eldest  daughter  provide  financial  support to  her  however;  the  lack  of regular  employment  also  makes  it  difficult  for  them  to  consistently  contribute  to  household income.  However,  their  presence  in  the  family  has  relieved  her  of  care  work  burden  and facilitated her mobility for paid work.  

During the farming and paid work season, she is not able to take rest and has to switch between care  work  and  paid  work.  The  care  work  burden  has  also  shifted  to her  elder  daughter  who carries out most of the household work, child care as well as paid work.  

Ramkala  wants employment opportunities near the village so that they did not have to travel so far  to  work.  She  also  recommends  child  care  facilities  at  work  which  would  reduce  her  worry about child safety while working.

The work site is very far. I wish such work were nearby. It would be better if they gave us good tools themselves...I always get worried if the child will fall, if there were a place to keep the child, we could have worked without any worry.

About Ramkala BK

40-49
Autonomous control
Outcome: 
Towards a double boon
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Activities shown are a single day snapshot in the life of the woman.