The ‘Stubborn Stain’ on Development: Gendered Meanings of Housework (Non-)Participation in Cambodia

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The persistence of intra-household inequality is widely regarded as a ‘stubborn stain’ on development achievements and aspirations. As a key hindrance, this paper considers gendered meanings of housework undertaken in male-headed households of Siem Reap, Cambodia. Encompassing cooking, cleaning and child-care as forms of unpaid labour performed in the home, the paper uses in-depth interviews to reveal the differential discourses that men and women draw upon to explain current variances in the (non)-sharing of this work. The paper thereby brings to the fore the diversity, and divergence, of meanings surrounding this everyday practice, discursive domains of domestic inequality which must inform future development interventions and programmes. Until such time that these underlying discourses are taken seriously in the development arena, the paper argues that women’s housework will remain largely tied to appeals to cultures, traditions and customs that guard against the ‘cleaning up’ of housework injustice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1353-1370
JournalJournal of Development Studies
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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