Twenty nine year old Jolly lives with her 31 year old husband and three sons (aged ten, eight and two) in Korogwe District, Tanzania. The older two children attend school, and Jolly herself had a primary education. She is self-employed at a shop in a market that is between one and two hours’ walk from home, and works 12 hours per day. Her husband works outside the home.
Jolly carries out several income-generating activities during her working hours, such as selling in the market, participating in Village Community Bank (VICOBA) saving schemes and sometimes, if the season is good, selling her harvests from farming (usually cassava and sweet potato). Her motivation for participating in all paid work activities is to survive and have a meaningful life. Her earnings enable her to buy some household essentials. Jolly’s husband is happy and supportive of her paid work. She explains, ‘we bargain and see how to help our family especially in times of financial crisis.’
By taking part in a number of different paid work activities, Jolly spreads the financial burden:
Sometimes, let’s say my crops have taken [a] long [time to be] sold, I can look at my shop and saving schemes to pay for my children’s school fees or buy them drugs when they are sick. [I] can join hands with my husband and get enough money to take us through the challenge at hand.
Jolly’s unpaid care tasks at home include fetching water, cleaning the house, washing dishes, cooking, washing clothes and preparing the children to go to school. Jolly’s son helps in sweeping the house and washing dishes, while her husband cuts grass for the cows. The most intensive activity is fetching firewood, which takes up much time because Jolly has to go very far to fetch it. She gets very fatigued and sometimes develops headaches due to being overworked. She notes:
I face a lot of challenges in my paid work, like [cutting] my leg when cultivating, getting back pains when I cultivate for a long time, and my body gets too tired. I get tired from care activities at home, [so] I cannot even go to the farm. Sometimes I get tired from care activities, [so] that I cannot go to sell the buns (small pieces of bread, similar to pancakes) I cook.
In her absence, Jolly’s husband replaces her in doing home-based care tasks. He sees his wife’s pain but cannot help much. Jolly could take up other income-generating activities, such as selling utensils in a shop, or rearing and selling chickens.
Jolly’s work is outside the home in a market. She faces a lot of challenges, for example she sometimes gets too tired from care activities and fails to go to the farm or the shop. She has also developed chest problems. Jolly’s husband tries to help in care work, she explains:
I cannot cook for my children, wash their clothes and sometimes I cannot go and cut grass for the animals because of my involvement in paid work. My husband feels as if he is forced to do all the activities at home like cooking, mopping, cleaning the house and preparing the children to go to school because he is not used to [doing] such activities.
Jolly explains that the community are supportive of her paid work, as she ‘works hard to provide for my family.’ She participates in community activities for fear of being charged a fine due to lack of attendance (if she cannot pay the fine, Jolly has to sell some property to raise the money required). Her participation does not affect her paid work. She says, ‘in participating in community activities they should reduce the rules. Like if am not able to participate I should not be taken to the police or [face the community] taking my things/furniture.’
Jolly’s family perceive her work in a good light, because she provides for their needs. Her paid work helps relieve the burden of unpaid care work activities – for example, she can hire help to fetch water, buy household necessities, pay hospital bills and fund her children’s school places. However, when she falls sick, she finds it hard to combine paid and unpaid work.
Although government services are fairly standardized 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, although Jolly does not herself mention this, there are currently no childcare services provided by the government or within workplaces by employers.
Jolly suggests that it would help if care activities were distributed among family members. She thinks that communities should form groups to help each other in care tasks, and reduce the rules for participating in community activities. She also needs a loan to start a new business selling household items and food crops. Finally, she thinks the government should build schools and hospitals near the community and provide clothes for the children.