Video stories of unpaid care

Unpaid care work is found at all levels of society. These essential acts of caring and nurturing may include: household chores such as cooking and cleaning, as well as child minding and caring for the elderly or sick. More often than not, these essential activities, which are imperative to fulfill the material and emotional needs of families, are deemed to be a ‘woman’s responsibility’. Despite the significant time and physical demands of care taking, women rarely receive recognition for the productive work they contribute.

The three stories illustrate different aspects of unpaid care work experienced by women in the lowest welfare group in Indonesia. The videos, which promote the recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid care work, may be screened individually or as one story.

Discussion questions have been designed to generate dialogue about gendered divisions of labour and the inefficiencies of unpaid care work.

My children do not help

[SMERU] Unpaid Care Work - My Children Do Not Help

'My children do not help' tells the story of Ibu Munih, a woman in her 50s, who has been a single parent for 14 years. Although most of her children have become adults and left the home, she continues to support two of her youngest children and acts as the primary caregiver for one of her grandsons. In order to continue to support her family, Ibu Munih operates a food stall out of her family’s living space. This video highlights the fact that women may continue to perform essential care work for their family well into their elder years.

Discussion

Traditionally, as young people grow into adulthood, it is expected that they will take on care-taking responsibilities, including care of their parents and elders. 

  • What circumstances caused Ibu Munih to become the primary caregiver of her grandson?
  • What types of caregiving activities might Ibu Munih do each day?
  • Why do many elderly persons continue to face the burdens of unpaid care work?
  • How can adult children work to reduce the care-taking responsibilities of their parents?

She does it all

[SMERU] Unpaid Care Work - She Does It All

'She does it all' describes the daily experience of Ibu Anih, a woman and mother in her forties. In addition to her low-paid work as a casual worker and masseuse, Ibu Anih performs all of the caretaking activities for her family with some assistance from her daughter, but no assistance from either her husband or her sons. This video highlights the extent to which women and girls are solely responsible for doing most or all of a family’s household chores.

Discussion

Both Ibu Anih and her husband have paid jobs. When she is not working, Ibu Anih is required to perform care work on behalf of her whole family. 

  • What does her husband do when he is not working? 
  • Why is Ibu Anih solely responsible for her family’s household chores?
  • To what extent is unpaid care work recognized as a productive and essential activity?
  • What types of activities constitute ‘unpaid care work’? 

We are all family

[SMERU] Unpaid Care Work - We Are All Family

'We are all family' is the story of the residents of Gang Cepot, a dense peripheral urban settlement close to an industrial area in West Java. This story illustrates the pragmatic challenges encountered by women engaged in care work, and the cooperation exercised within communities to overcome these challenges. The introduction of refurbished laundry machines demonstrates how the provision of affordable technology can positively reduce the burden of household chores.

Discussion

This video, which documents changes in laundering facilities in Gang Cepot, shows how small innovations and acts of sharing can have significant impacts. 

  • Whose idea was it to provide refurbished laundry machines in Gang Cepot? 
  • Who was most affected by this innovation?
  • What other innovations could improve the lives of residents in Gang Cepot?
  • Are there similar challenges in your own community?