Joy is 40 years old and lives with her husband (aged 50) and their three-year-old son in Korogwe District, Tanzania. She is a businesswoman, running a shop that is up to two hours’ walking distance from their house, which she operates three hours a day. She attended primary school. Joy’s husband is a farmer, cultivating crops such as maize, cassavas, bananas and vegetables. She belongs to a self-help group.
Joy explains that her shop faces problems of debt, theft and loss of money. The family, including her husband, perceive Joy’s paid work positively as it helps them to fulfil their basic needs. The community respects her work, and even local government employees respect her. With her income, Joy pays for help with her care tasks, as well as for casual labourer for the gardens; she also pays school fees for relatives’ children and hospital bills out of her earnings. At home, Joy takes care of sweeping, cooking, washing clothes and other related activities such as farming in the family garden. Her maid contributes by sweeping, cooking, farming, and planting beans. Joy confirms that cooking and washing take up much of her time, but she also earns money from the beans grown at home.
Joy points out that sometimes she fails to complete care work at home because there is just too much to do, and she sometimes leaves tasks unfinished. 'I cannot wash children’s clothes or wash the dishes because of my involvement in paid work. I have to go very early to my paid work.’ This affects Joy’s paid work, as her attention is focused on her incomplete tasks at home. Joy’s husband explains the impact of care work on her paid work: ‘my wife’s paid work is affected by her unpaid work, like working in the plantation makes her business perform poorly.’ However, her husband and the family feel good about her contribution to care activities. Her husband is the decision maker and planner in their family, but Joy also contributes. He says,
There is no problem with my wife being absent from home, but sometimes the (house) work is not done to her standards.
Joy admits that the children she regularly cares for (including relatives’ children who do not live with her) get tired from doing all the work when she is not at home, and that they do not get time to rest. This has become a challenge for Joy, and she fears she may end up with a declining business while also failing to do some care activities such as cooking.
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, there are currently no childcare services provided by the government or within workplaces by employers.
To solve the problems she faces, Joy would prefer to get more support for her unpaid care work, while she attends to the shop. She thinks the community should train trustworthy people with good morals to employ at home doing the care work. Joy’s husband adds, ‘the community should provide education through sensitizing its members to get involved in productive work, to improve family income and sharing of household work.’ Joy would also like to get capital for her business so she can better meet the customers’ needs, and thinks the government should provide water and security to the community.