In Rwanda, on average, rural women spend up to seven hours daily on domestic and unpaid care work.
The Labour Force Survey 20019, Thematic Report on Gender, shows that the percentage of females in unpaid care work was 5.4 percentage points higher than among males (that is 6.6% against 1.2%).
Unpaid care work refers to all non-market, unpaid activities carried out inside households – including both direct care of persons, such as children or elderly, and indirect care, such as cooking, cleaning or fetching water, washing among others.
In order to address this, local community women leaders have reviewed new ways of reducing the current burden of unpaid labor which is largely caused by cultural mindset, upbringing, and social influence- that leave married women to go through in trying to keep alive their marital relationships.
During a Female (FEM) dialogue, a meeting organized by Rwanda Women’s Network and Oxfam, December 21 to discuss ways to deal with Gender-Based Violence and Unpaid care work, married women said that the latter is largely caused by cultural aspects.
Riziki Mukamanzi from Kayonza district said that unpaid labor is endless and done while husbands are sleeping or while at the marketplace or at the bar place, leaving their female spouses breaking their backs on top of childbearing.
“Sometimes I feel like I am the housemaid because I barely rest. When I think of resting it is when more work piles up,” Mukamanzi said.
Like many women, Esperance Mukantagara said that rural women are the biggest victims of unpaid labor because of the cultural mindset where a woman, once married, is seen by others and by herself, as the person to do all the family unpaid jobs.
“Some women think and have grown up knowing that jobs of cooking, cleaning and raising children are for women and if they don’t do so, they will be seen as badly brought up,” Mukantagara said.
The dialogue agreed on the next actions to take including, using dramas to educate citizens during village meetings, working closely with religious leaders to spread the news, and using testimonies of men to educate others.
Rwanda Women Network CEO, Mary Barikungeri said that the organization will continue training and supporting women’s initiatives towards empowerment and bridging the gender gaps in society.