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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  • Hema Bai

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

    Teesta and her teenage daughters walk long distances to fetch water after long and arduous days on construction sites
  • Rukmini Keshavdas

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

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

    Lack of decent paid work opportunities results in precarious income levels for Shaila’s all-female household
  • Gauri Mina

    Gauri prefers to leave children home than be ‘kept in a pit’ at MGNREGA worksites
  • Maya Daabi

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

    Young boy pulled out of school to help his mother Seema with care tasks in mainly male family
  • Roshni Mimroth

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

    SEWA member Reema is able to send her children to private school, but works hard without any rest.
  • Shashikala Sailesh

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

    Death of in-laws causes Varsha’s well being to spiral downwards
  • Pratibha Garudi

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

    Gendered division of responsibilities remains unchanged over generations, trapping Indumati and her daughter-in-law in a perpetual imbalance between care and paid work
  • Leena Dinesh

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