Searching for the Balance between Paid and Domestic Work: Cases from Less-Developed Countries

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Yukimi SHIMODA, University of Tsukuba, Japan
The globalising economy has forced both men and women to seek and engage in paid work outside the home. This is not only the trend in developed countries, but can also be observed in the rural areas of less-developed countries. These areas have been included in global value chains in recent decades; while discussions on the relationship between work and family tend to focus on the former setting. In less-developed countries, the increasing opportunities for engagement with paid work will (or even now) require concern over issues related to work and family balance that developed countries have already experienced.

This paper is based on qualitative research into the experiences of female workers, those who produce the handicrafts that are ordered by a Japanese transnational retail and manufacturing company, in the rural areas of two less-developed countries—Kyrgyzstan and Laos. Women generally take responsibility for most domestic work, such as child rearing, care of elderly parents, and housework. The introduction of paid work in rural communities is gradually, and certainly, changing the previously blurred boundary between work and family in the process of involving women in global value chains. The strategies of women/families for managing paid and domestic work reveal both the possibilities and limitations of business activities as a development approach, which international donors have been promoting under international initiatives such as the Sustainable Development Goals. Findings derived from case studies in the two countries suggest that issues related to the intersection between work and family spheres affects people in less-developed countries; as well as those in developed countries. Finally, this paper concludes by discussing the necessity to be aware of the socio-cultural consequences that the development approach using business activities might cause.