Theses Master's

Unpaid care work and women’s economic empowerment from a rights-based approach: A case study of the Dominican Republic

Dominguez Cisneros, Lucia

This qualitative case study documents the hardships that women micro entrepreneurs face in the Dominican Republic regarding their double roles as primary providers for their households as well as primary caretakers in their families. By carrying out 14 interviews and a focus group to women participants of an economic empowerment program in the province of Valverde, the goal is to document the drivers behind women engaging in economic activity, and specifically micro entrepreneurship, and to understand the challenges that they face regarding unpaid care work as single heads of household. A rights-based approach is applied to the analysis of the data, laying out how women’s income-earning responsibilities, coupled with their role as unpaid care workers can hinder their human rights. The research shows that the women are responsible of earning an income for their families while often working more than one job, and that their children and other women in their community bear the burden of unpaid work when the participants are overwhelmed. Analyzed through a rights-based approach, the data illustrates how the second shift to which these women are subjected hinders their human rights to equality and non discrimination, health, decent work, education and social security. However, the women micro entrepreneurs are very active in their communities, which contradicts the idea that the women are relegated exclusively to the private sphere. The research has shown a need to elaborate policies that transform the gender roles that generate an expectation of women as sole care providers in the household, as well as to elaborate programming that actively works to dismantle this structure.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
McGill, Eugenia
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
May 22, 2019