This report provides evidence on the lived experiences of women in low-income families as they strive to balance paid work and unpaid care work responsibilities. It presents the findings of a mixed-methods research project carried out in India, Nepal, Rwanda, and Tanzania during 2015–17.
The findings demonstrate that while women welcome the chance to earn income, paid work options are few and poorly paid, and do not contribute to their ‘economic empowerment’. The effects of paid work are physically and emotionally depleting, and are also felt by children, because of a reduction in the amount and quality of care they received, and their augmented roles as substitute providers of care and unpaid helpers at both home and their mother’s paid work.
The report analyses the extent to which existing women’s economic empowerment policies and programmes can achieve empowerment for women. It calls for changes in macroeconomic contexts while simultaneously demonstrating how changes in social norms can ease the gendered division of labour both within the home and in the paid work sphere, resulting in an increase in women’s agency and decision-making.