Daniela is 38 years old and lives with her husband (44 years old) and four sons (aged 16, 13, 10 and less than one year old) in Lushoto District, Tanzania. Daniela never went to school, but her three older children attend school. She is self-employed, working for three hours each day on her own land away from the house, less than 30 minutes’ walk from home. Her husband works as a farmer and has a small business.
Daniela earns income from selling milk, cultivating vegetables and beans, and from hairdressing. She started farming because she could not afford to buy food. She notes that there are other opportunities to make income, such as working in a shop, buying and selling animals, and day labour jobs: ‘although there are day labour jobs in people’s farms, I don’t work there since I have a shamba [land] of my own to look after.’ The income Daniela earns enables her to buy clothes for her children and provide for all their basic needs. It also helps buy agricultural inputs such as fertilizer.
Daniela finds farming can be difficult at times:
Cultivating the land using my hands is a big challenge for me as I get tired so much. There is a government project for every household to get a cow. The current animal [I] am grazing is the seed animal. I will have to wait for its first birth to get a calf that I can raise as my own. It will take a long time waiting for the calf. Meanwhile I have to feed the seed cow for almost two years.
Her husband adds:
I get tired in irrigating my vegetables as [I] am using my hands to water them. My vegetables do not get enough water because I get tired from carrying buckets and this damages the vegetables, hence you get little income at the end.
At home, Daniela’s unpaid care tasks are to cook, fetch water, wash utensils and clothes, and clean the house. She explains that farming consumes much of her time, because she farms vegetables and 'it is very difficult to care for vegetables.'
Daniela’s husband provides great support in her care activities and her sister-in-law also helps in her absence. On one occasion, Daniela’s husband stepped in to provide support when Daniela took her eldest son to a specialist for treatment in Tanga Regional Hospital. They were away two days, and Daniela’s husband did the cooking and cleaning on top of his daily activities of animal feeding. He explains that the children and his sister do contribute to care activities, for example if one takes on washing dishes, another takes over cooking. Daniela’s son cleans, sweeps, fetches water and looks after animals – he feels bad that his mother gets too tired. He also says, ‘I would like to have more time with my mother because she helps in correcting me where I go wrong in my studies.’
Daniela’s participation in unpaid care work contributes to the family’s happiness and stability. Besides cleaning the house, washing clothes and other tasks, she ensures that her farming and cultivation is not negatively affected. She spends much time farming, explaining, ‘sometimes my children go to bed on an empty stomach when I am busy doing paid work,’ and reports that it also affects her health. Her absence at home sometimes costs her husband time: ‘sometimes my husband fails to do his daily casual work because he has to stay at home doing household activities.’
Daniela is also concerned that unpaid care work is not carried out to the same standard when she is away: ‘the care activities are not done the way I do them when I am home, for instance taking care of kids.’ Daniela’s husband says, ‘I don’t like my wife to go to work from home as there will be some activities at home that will be undone and the kids will not get proper care.’ During the period of preparing farms (February/March and July/August) it is difficult for Daniela to combine both because there is much to do on the farm. She has to leave home activities incomplete and do the farming first.
Daniela’s paid work benefits her care responsibilities because she is able to earn income to take care of the family. Daniela’s husband appreciates his wife’s contribution to the home because she helps in paying for the family’s food, clothes and health services. Daniela says, ‘my family feels good about my unpaid care work because I am trying to provide for them and sometimes they are helping me to do activities as they see that there is too much work to be done.’ But Daniela sometimes performs poorly at work because her youngest child requires her to spend time breastfeeding.
Although government services are fairly standardised across Tanzania, access to key services such as water sources, health centres and transport is often limited or problematic. Services also vary depending on location, for example, electricity is accessible in urban areas but not in rural. Also significantly, there are currently no childcare services provided by the government or within workplaces by employers.
As a solution to the juggle of paid and unpaid work, Daniela would distribute the care activities at home to others in the family, so that she would not get so burdened. Daniela’s son noted, ‘if I would change something about my mother’s routine, I would help my mother to wash dishes and do cleaning.’ Daniela also wants to get fertilisers, seeds and pesticides so that she can get better results from farming, which will help in raising more income to cover school and medical fees and enable her to hire help at home. She thinks the government should provide inputs for farmers because they are very expensive.
Daniela also wants the NGO (Oxfam) to reduce the length of meetings to allow more time for paid work and increase her income. She says, ‘when I attend the community meetings I benefit nothing – we don’t get paid. So it is just [a waste] of time and [I don’t get] income from it.’