15 August 2018 | Fact Sheet

Women, Work, and Care: the case of Indonesia and the Philippines

Care Economy, Gender Norms


This series of factsheets illustrate how gender equality in Indonesia and the Philippines intersects with other socio-economic inequalities.

These factsheets discuss the dual roles that women play, as both workers in paid employment, and also unpaid care workers in the home taking care of young children and the elderly. They highlight how women’s family responsibilities are necessitated by the absence of state provisions that could otherwise support women to be active in the workforce.

They also outline the intersectionality of women’s issues as women from wealthier segments of society are afforded greater equality than those from lower socio-economic groups.

This series of factsheets is published by the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre at the University of Sydney, commissioned by Investing in Women.


  • Gendered beliefs about the role of men and women in families and in society are the primary social norm constraining women’s economic empowerment. Even where a woman earns the larger share of household income she is likely to see herself – and be seen by others – as a secondary earner.
  • The Filipino state recognises that women have an important role to play in nation-building and the constitution supports women’s dual right to be both workers and mothers. However, in practice, women are the mainstay of family life and widely expected to be the primary carers of children and the aged.
  • The heavy weight of care work, particularly in poorer households, explains why Indonesian women have a high chance of dropping out of the labour force after bearing children than women in other countries in the region

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