Skip to main content

Balancing Unpaid Care Work and Paid Work in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa

This project seeks to examine the links between women's economic empowerment, women's paid work, and their unpaid care responsibilities. Its goal is to support policies and programs that can empower women to overcome barriers stemming from their dual roles as money-earners and primary care providers. Even as more women enter the labour force, their unpaid domestic responsibilities have not diminished. In developing countries, women and girls regularly take on unpaid care work. This has important implications for their economic empowerment. It can - restrict their ability to participate in economic, social, and political activities - limit their ability to seek employment - constrain their employment choices and options By quantifying time spent on care work and women's unpaid contribution to the economy, time-use surveys have helped us better understand the burden of care. However, there are knowledge gaps. We need a deeper understanding of the relationship between women's paid and unpaid care work, and how care is organized. This project will focus on India, Nepal, Rwanda, and Tanzania. Researchers will examine the links between women's economic empowerment, women's paid work, and their unpaid care responsibilities. The insights will encourage policies that consider care arrangements while also increasing women's participation in the labour force. The research team will use the results to offer policy advice on how state and non-state women's economic empowerment policies and programs can integrate unpaid care work. The goal? To maximize knowledge and share solutions across families and generations. This research is supported under the Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW) program. GrOW is a five-year, multi-funder partnership of the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and IDRC. With a focus on low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, GrOW aims to support policies and interventions that improve women's livelihoods and contribute to societal well-being. One component of the program will support 11 projects addressing barriers to women's economic empowerment and gender gaps in earnings and productivity. This project is among them, selected following a competitive call.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
27 months
IDRC Officer
Martha Melesse
Total Funding
CA$ 1,148,617.00
South Asia
South of Sahara
Employment and Growth
Employment and Growth
Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women
Institution Country
United Kingdom
Project Leader
Deepta Chopra
Institute of Development Studies GB



Unpaid care and women’s empowerment : lessons from research and practice - policy brief


From double burden of women to a “Double Boon” : balancing unpaid care work and paid work


A trapeze act : balancing unpaid care work and paid work by women in Nepal


Addressing unpaid care for economic empowerment of women and girls : a broad based consultation on the care economy for the UN High Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment