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