Jane Uwase is a 29-year-old single mother living in Musanze District, Rwanda. She is separated from her husband and has two children: a daughter (aged ten) and a son (aged one). Jane and her children also live with her parents (aged 52 and 54). Her daughter attends school and Jane herself had a Primary education. She typically does nine hours of paid work a day and her parents do some self-employed paid work.
Jane combines her paid work with unpaid care work at home, including cleaning the house and compound, washing the children, cultivating the land and taking care of livestock. Her parents support her in care activities at home, particularly caring for her children when she is away from the house for paid work – for example, Jane’s mother feeds her son with milk.
Combining paid and unpaid work is not an easy undertaking. In fact, as her parents are older and find it difficult to do paid work, Jane is obliged to look for income sources to support her family. She says,
‘I am responsible [for] the family and I [use the] money I earn to buy food because my children live at home. For this reason, I have to work very hard to save something.’
Jane faces challenges in juggling her paid and unpaid work. For example, she does not get enough time for leisure. Her father explains: ‘I have realised that my daughter has much workload. In fact, she combines doing paid work and taking care of her children and even us at [the] same time because we are old. We try to help her anyway.’ He also says,
‘generally Jane and her mother avoid leaving home at the same time so that at least one of them is around to care for the children and do other unpaid work.’
Jane feels that the government should help ease her situation by bringing clean water to her village. It should also provide children’s centres where she can leave her children when she is away at her paid job.