Study on Unpaid Care Work in Indonesia


This research aims to explore opportunities to increase the profile of unpaid care work in public policy discourse. It is part of a global study on unpaid care work organized by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). The study, which involves Indonesia and Bangladesh, explores different political conditions that have made policymakers acknowledge or neglect the significance of unpaid care work. 

In various societies, especially in developing countries such as Indonesia, care work is still taken for granted. As a result, care work—especially unpaid care work—activities are not adequately valued in economic terms and not taken into consideration in policymaking processes. This overlooks the contribution of care work to households and the national economy, as well as to the quality of care and the welfare of women and children.

The study analyzes social and political conditions affecting the level of awareness and support that raise the public policy profile of unpaid care work as a matter of women’s rights, gender equality, and national development, and factors which hinder it. The data is collected through interviews and focus group discussions (FGD) with relevant stakeholders—both from government and nongovernmental institutions—at the national level as well as poor women in three villages located in Kabupaten Bekasi, Kabupaten Cianjur, and Kabupaten Banjar during 2012–2014. The research also uses secondary data from the National Socioeconomic Survey (Susenas) conducted by Statistics Indonesia.

The desk study finds that issues on unpaid care work in Indonesia have rarely been explored in development policy discussions. This is due to the fact that (i) unpaid care work is still generally seen as a domestic issue, (ii) the gendered division of labor is deeply rooted in Indonesian society, (iii) there is no clear definition of unpaid care work, and (iv) there has not been any definite attempt to value unpaid care work. Nevertheless, care work has been unintentionally included in various policies, such as the expansion of early childhood education (PAUD) and the provision of water and sanitation facilities.


Source of data

  • National level: interviews and FGDs with stakeholders from government and non-government institutions, and Susenas
  • Subnational level: interviews with poor women in three villages in Kabupaten Bekasi and Kabupaten Cianjur (West Java Province), and Kabupaten Banjar (South Kalimantan Province)   

Share this page

Widjajanti Isdijoso
Valentina Y. D. Utari
Team Member 
Rachma Indah Nurbani
Valentina Y. D. Utari
Hariyanti Sadaly
Widjajanti Isdijoso
Elza Elmira
Completion Year 
Project Donor 
The Institute of Development Studies (IDS); the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)
Technical Partner 
The Institute of Development Studies (IDS); BRAC University, Bangladesh
Type of Service