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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  • Malati Kathodi

    Young Tribal woman studies against all odds, yet struggles
  • Rukmini Keshavdas

    Rukmini is able to send her children to a private school through good returns from stitching bags at home
  • Malavika Gaur

    Irregular and low-wage construction work adversely impacts Malavika’s children
  • Madhu Devi Damor

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

    Widowed Swati prefers to migrate to brick kilns despite her children being deprived of schooling
  • Maya Daabi

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

    Poverty, alcoholism and absence of public services exacerbates the double burden that Sarita and her children have to bear
  • Simran Rakesh

    Lack of public care support for adult dependents consigns Simran to rolling incense sticks
  • Roshni Mimroth

    Rolling incense sticks and looking after younger siblings affects 12 year old girl’s school attendance
  • Leena Dinesh

    Lack of affordable creche forces 80 year old grandmother to care for twin grandchildren
  • Pratibha Garudi

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

    Gauri prefers to leave children home than be ‘kept in a pit’ at MGNREGA worksites
  • Sangeetha Sohan Damra

    Collection of water is an uphill task for Sangeetha and her children
  • Sumita Sharma

    Sumita’s young children help their mother roll incense sticks in the absence of decent work opportunities and limited child care options
  • Hema Bai

    Pregnant worker on government employment guarantee scheme, Hema Bai, struggles against discrimination and drudgery