Aisha Mwiza is a 27-year-old single mother living with her three children in Muko sector, Musanze District, Rwanda. She has two sons (aged nine and six) and a one-year-old daughter. Her two sons attend school, and Aisha herself completed lower Secondary school. She participates in a women’s economic empowerment (WEE) programme run by ActionAid. The programme supports both men and women with farming technology and market linkages.
Aisha grows vegetables and maize in her farm on the WEE site, which is approximately 40 minutes’ walk from her home. She goes to the site every day except for weekends and when there is no work to be done on the farm, especially after harvesting. The programme does not provide childcare facilities. She explains that the amount earned through her farming work is not sufficient to cater for all the household needs, but it helps her buy food, clothes and school materials for her children. As another important source of income, she sells vegetables in the village market:
‘I sell vegetables and fruits in order to earn income. I sell them to village traders and local market and get time to do farming and do care work at home.’
Aisha’s children are still very young to be helping her with care activities. As such, she does almost all of the care activities on her own. She fetches water from a public water source available in her village, cleans the house, cares for the children and so on because there is no other person to help. Her eldest son helps with doing some care activities such as fetching water and cleaning the compound. Since Aisha is a single mother, combining both paid work and care activities is challenging. To balance the two activities and free up some time, she hires at least two people occasionally. One person is hired to find fodder for her livestock while another is hired to farm in her garden:
‘there is one person who helps with caring for livestock and looks for fodders. This person is being hired and paid per month. Sometimes I hire someone to help farming so that I can get time for care activities.’
Aisha would like to extend her business but she lacks enough funds to do so. As such she feels that getting a loan and also training in areas related to business management, market searching and farm technologies would help her to improve her business. She also feels that if the government helped her by providing improved seeds she would be able to increase crop output.