Mama Marion (47 years old) lives in a male-headed family of eight people in Korogwe District, Tanzania, which includes her husband (aged 50), her young sister-in-law, two daughters (aged 20 and 13), and three sons (aged 27, 8 and 4). Her children above six years of age and her sister-in-law attend school. Mama Marion’s level of education is Primary. She works in a market that is 15–30 minutes walking distance away from her house, working three hours a day. She is also part of the self-help groups supported by the WDF programme. Her husband is a farmer cultivating maize and cassava.
Mama Marion is a farmer and sells part of the yield from the farm along with handicrafts such as mats. Her family is happy about her income because it contributes to buying basic things at home such as food: ‘The money I get I use it in the day-to-day needs for my family like food, medication’, says Mama Marion. The income from paid work helps her solve most of the essential needs like food, clothes, and her daughter’s school materials. As she is often short of time, instead of going far to collect firewood she will sometimes buy wood and also water by paying someone to fetch it and bring it home for her. The income also helps her to buy working materials that she uses to make the mats.
Mama Marion does different care activities for the family such as washing utensils, cooking, collecting firewood, and preparing the children to go to school. Her husband does the farming but sometimes helps with cleaning the environment. Farming in her garden takes most of her time. ‘The family feels good because I take care of them and they are in good health’, says Mama Marion. She mentions that women can take care of men’s responsibilities to earn:
For example, I help my husband in the farm and also when it comes to work, they always say a man is head of the family, but I take care of responsibilities even more than he does because he is not around all the time. Children always ask their mother because they see her around, as mother I always try to provide for our daughter when my husband is not around. We contribute to each other.
Mama Marion separates her time for work and family stating, ‘when it is work time I do my work and ensure my time to be home, I am there even though it is never enough for both’. She takes good care of her family and ensures they eat on time and does for them the things she feels they can’t handle, like cooking. She is supposed to do all the housework such as washing, cooking, collecting firewood, and also farming and business. She makes mats when she has free time to rest: ‘I am able to do all these tasks because I make a programme for myself on what I should do first, then next what and finalise with what.’
There are different care tasks that she is not always able to do due to her involvement in paid work, for example, she does not get enough time to help her young sister-in-law with homework. However, because she has been able to provide for her family’s fundamental needs she feels no problem participating in both activities of income-generating and homecare tasks. The only effects she reports is that when she goes for farm activities there is no one taking on her care activities so most of the work waits for her when she returns home. She gets tired and sometimes does not manage to do the work well.
She suggests that they should all help one another in the household. Also she feels that NGOs should have a policy of paying them at least a small amount of money to compensate for time attending NGO activities that could’ve been spent working: ‘at the end of the day you have no food and the family needs to eat, at least there should be some sort of compensation.’ She also suggests that the government should provide schools and water.