Accepted paper:

Time-use, marital negotiations and tensions about work: comparing rural India and Bangladesh


Wendy Olsen (University of Manchester)
Sahida Khondaker (BRAC University)
Sohela Nazneen (Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex)
Maheen Sultan (Brac Institute of Governance and Development)
Santosh Singh (Indian Institute of Dalit Studies)

Paper short abstract:

The time-use and work experience of women in rural Bangladesh and In Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand are differentiated by social class. Their labour supply is officially declining, but their reality is highly diverse. We examine how social class and ethnicity are associated women's time-use.

Paper long abstract:

In rural north central India and Bangladesh, the prevalent rural pattern is that when woman get married, they are said to "withdraw" from the labour market. We have data on both adult women's time use and their husbands' activities. We specifically address how their time-use contradicts commonly used measures of economic participation. They work much more than would be recorded using standard measures. Time-use data show most of the women working considerable amounts of time on farms, fisheries, and with livestock. Thus it was ideological and a masking strategy for people to describe the women as 'not in the labour force' and as housewives.

A second problem is the existence of a command/submit pattern of discourse within these rural marriages. Men are said to dictate to women what to do; yet in reality, many of the rural women and men in this zone often negotiate about work duties.

Our empirical study covered 24 villages with 86 semi-structured interviews and 1800 questionnaires. Women's work is more nuanced and wide ranging than can be discovered using official methods. In Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand, the respect of neighbours was lost for many poor working women. For some, others holding a negative opinion of them was a source of bitter emotions.

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