Accepted paper:

Empowerment or Depletion - what determines outcomes of women's work?


Deepta Chopra (Institute of Development Studies)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will present time use data to examine interactions between paid work and unpaid care work. It will show that these interactions and the quality of both paid and unpaid work are critical factors in shaping women's outcomes from this work to be either empowering or depleting.

Paper long abstract:

Recent mixed methods research from four countries (India, Nepal, Tanzania and Rwanda) highlights severe inequalities that women face because of the double burden they experience - doing paid work alongside their unpaid work and caring responsibilities. Empowerment programmes focus on increasing labour force participation of women as a key strategy. However, our research shows that without taking into account both unpaid care work and the drudgery involved in paid and unpaid work, this strategy risks increasing the depletion that women and their families face, rather than empowering them. This paper presents time use data from the four countries, to show a) the interactions between paid work and unpaid care work; and b) the extent of multi-tasking that women undertake in their time. Qualitative case studies are also examined to outline the effects of time use patterns of women on women themselves, and on their children and families. The overwhelming conclusion is that of depletion of women's bodies and minds, which is a result of them having no time to rest in between caring for others, undertaking hard, backbreaking and drudgerous work, and carrying out essential tasks of water and fuel collection. These, the paper argues, are critical factors in shaping women's experiences and outcomes of work as being either empowering, or depleting for themselves and their families.

panel H04
Women's inequalities and global progress in work: access, dignity, decency of women's work (Paper)