A new survey has established that women who do both low income jobs and unpaid care work suffer varied effects due to the overwhelming burden of juggling the two.
Dubbed “Balancing unpaid care work and paid work”, the survey was conducted by ActionAid Rwanda in partnership with Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in Huye and Musanze districts.
About 200 respondents took part in the survey, which was aimed at understanding how ‘women’s economic empowerment policy programming can avoid a double burden on working women and generate a double boon.’
Unpaid care work includes child care, cooking, fetching water, collecting firewood, and looking after cattle among others, which mothers have to juggle with paid work to make ends meet. The survey findings indicated that women are overloaded and this affects their physical and psychological well being.
Mothers reported constant sickness due to overworking such as back pain while children lacked enough parental attention with some going to bed before eating. The challenge is compounded by gender stereotypes that solely place the responsibility of household tasks on women.
Going forward, this calls for more efforts from all stakeholders to take measures to address this challenge based on the recommendations of the survey. Government and development partners should devise more measures to ease unpaid care work for women through setting up amenities such as water facilities, and provision of bio-gas for cooking to reduce the burden imposed on women as they travel long distances to collect water and firewood.
Also, the programme to set up Early Childhood Development Centres across the country should be expedited to ensure that mothers concentrate on paid work without worrying about children.
Although Rwanda is a role model in terms of women empowerment, the findings of the survey show that we still have to do more to achieve the desired gender equality and women empowerment.