Jeannette Niyonsenga is 31 years old and lives in Musanze District, Rwanda. She is divorced from her husband and lives with her four children – two daughters (aged nine and one) and two sons (aged 12 and 5). Jeanette’s highest level of education is Primary and her two older children go to school.
To support her family, Jeanette works as a farmer, usually for five hours a day. In addition to this paid work, her unpaid care work at home includes cleaning the compound, washing clothes, cooking, fetching water, carrying out agricultural activities, taking care of her children and sometimes also taking care of her elders. Jeanette’s son and daughter support her in her care work, including fetching water, collecting firewood, cleaning the compound and the house, taking care of their siblings and sometimes preparing food.
Jeannette’s care and paid work clearly interfere with each other:
The unpaid work affects me since in most cases I do not get enough time to rest. In fact, I am always busy with lots of care work to do at my home. I sometimes suffer from constant sickness, pains, etc.
Jeanette’s work also has an impact on her children. She explains:
My daughter and son get tired too since they combine school and unpaid work at home. It is so tiresome and they do not get enough time to play with their friends due to some [of the] duties assigned to them.
Jeanette’s place of work does not offer any childcare facilities or a crèche. The income she earns allows her to buy food and pay her children’s school fees, and she is able to negotiate with her employer the amount of money that she is paid and the hours she works.
Jeannette does not have enough time to spend with her family because of the imbalance between care work and paid work. To improve her situation, Jeannette feels the community would play an important role, such as by taking care of her children when she is doing paid work. She also would like the government to provide clean water and assistance in her farming.