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Why women do more care work

Watch a Nepali woman illustrate how gender roles and care work make it difficult for her to participate in the labour market.

In this video, you will meet Sangita Nepali again. Living in Kathmandu, Nepal, the domestic worker and mother of two talks about the obstacles she meets when she wants to participate in the labour market.

Sangita Nepali faces the double burden of doing care work for her own family while working in the informal market. As the video illustrates, the situation becomes precarious under the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This case study is situated in the Nepali context. Nepal has a patriarchal structure. This results in power relations that determine gender roles. Cultural practises and barriers in the gender division of labour contribute to the lack of capacity and financial literacy.

Male domination of certain roles pushes women into other roles in other spheres, rather than providing the space for women to acquire new skills. Traditionally, women are bound to perform more unpaid domestic and care work within households in Nepal. Nowadays, Nepalese society still places women on a spectrum where they are forced to perform household chores along with paid work, forcing them to do more work compared to their male counterparts.

In addition, women receive low wages compared to men, which exposes them to greater vulnerability and marginalisation. Even in urban settings, where women are educated and more informed about gender roles, they are forced to perform unpaid household chores over and above their paid work, depending on the households in which they are married.

As for women working in the informal labour market, it is evident in the context of Nepal that vulnerability plagues them, as they earn a living without any kind of protection or safety net. However, despite having to earn their living, women are bound to take a greater share of domestic and care work in their own or other people’s households, which men rarely do.

What strikes you most in Nepali’s account? Where would you put a focus to better her situation? Share your comments with your peers.

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Gender and Labour in the Global South

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