38-year-old Francin lives with her extended family, including her husband (aged 40), their four children (three sons aged 15, 11 and 3, and a daughter aged 10), her sister-in-law (aged 33) and parents-in-law (aged 80 and 70). Francin’s highest level of education is Pre-Primary. Francin and her husband are involved in farming, both for commercial and home consumption, and they also do casual labour on other people’s farms. Francin works for 12 hours a day and the three eldest children attend school.
Francin’s husband explains that she does millet weeding and farming on someone else’s land, in return for pay. Francin says that she does this wage labour whenever she gets the work, but if she does not get work elsewhere, she works on her own farm in order to produce crops to sell. She is able to earn some income, provide essential needs for her family and help out her husband:
I do contribute through digging – that is by providing food for the family. And in some cases I grow for sale. So after selling I get to buy some clothes, and through that I can be helping out my husband.
Francin feels she does not have other options to earn an income.
Francin does most of the unpaid work in the household, such as farming for the home, washing clothes, cooking food and taking care of her children. She says, ‘I contribute in the care of my family because I ensure that they are fine. If there is a sick person, I ensure that they get medication, and also I ensure school-going children do not miss [their lessons].’ Francin is mainly supported in her household activities by her husband, who fetches water, collects firewood and provides her with food. The activities that take up most of her time are farming for the home and selling fried fish: ‘I spend most of my time digging. I go at 8am and come back at 2pm.’ Francin says that when she is not at home her husband takes full responsibility. Her mother-in-law and daughter help with the cooking, going to the farm, cleaning the house and washing utensils.
Due to Francin’s paid work, she is not always able to do the household chores: ‘fetching water and collecting firewood I usually fail to do, and my husband helps me out [with] them.’ Since Francin has a young son, when she is called to do work outside her family she does not go because she has to take care of him:
Nowadays I do not work outside the family, ooh... [unless] they call for me in the nearby village, [then] I go and work. But otherwise my husband is the one who works far. Now I cannot go because of my children.
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.
Francin faces some challenges in her work. Sometimes when she is engaged in paid farming for other people they make her work beyond the agreed time. Francin’s husband explains that she, ‘sometimes faces an issue of time – her employers in most cases exceed the agreed time of working.’ He adds that when she goes to work her health is affected, because she comes home complaining of back pain.
As a solution, Francin suggests that employees should put more effort into their work so that they can earn more to support their families. She thinks that in times of hunger the government should provide food to the community, such as posho (a firm corn porridge). Francin’s husband also suggests that they should be given pigs, goats and cows for free – they could then keep the offspring and give the original animals to others in the community.