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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  • Leena Dinesh

    Lack of affordable creche forces 80 year old grandmother to care for twin grandchildren
  • Madhu Devi Damor

    Madhu’s paid work necessitates older mother-in-law and younger sister-in-law to step in for care work
  • Simran Rakesh

    Lack of public care support for adult dependents consigns Simran to rolling incense sticks
  • Sangeetha Sohan Damra

    Collection of water is an uphill task for Sangeetha and her children
  • Pratibha Garudi

    Balancing domestic work, care work and home-based work has caused Pratibha’s health to deteriorate
  • Suneetha G

    Dam construction wrecks havoc on Suneetha’s time
  • Parvati Sharma

    Widowed Parvati rolls incense sticks while older mother goes for factory work to support their family
  • Swati Balai

    Widowed Swati prefers to migrate to brick kilns despite her children being deprived of schooling
  • Shashikala Sailesh

    12th grade educated Shashikala faces discrimination at paid work while coping with household tensions
  • Malavika Gaur

    Irregular and low-wage construction work adversely impacts Malavika’s children
  • Aradhna Parmar

    Aradhna wishes she could spend more time with her daughters instead of making them help her in care activities
  • Manjari Rajkumar

    18-year old Manjari gets no time to rest, whether she is at the brick kilns or at her home
  • Divya Pargi

    Husband helps with care tasks, but with lack of essential public services, Divya’s family struggles to survive.
  • Maya Daabi

    Maya struggles to take care of her child while working on government employment guarantee programme
  • Durga Naikda

    Gendered and cultural norms restrict woman’s paid work mobility