Women leaders in the western district of Mbarara have expressed optimism that it is possible to advocate change to lessen the burden of unpaid domestic care work on females.
During an advocacy training in Bwizibwera Mbarara on April 3-5, 2023, women leaders said they were confident that their health, earnings, and the general wellbeing would improve if family members shared care work responsibilities at home.
“Women have problems because of the burden they bear taking care of the family,” said Gertrude Kiviri, a community leader. “Some [women] work up to midnight without rest.”
Constance Birungi, another community leader in Bwizibwera Mbarara, said Unpaid Care Work (UCW) burden made women weak, they hate themselves, and some suffer ulcers for not eating on time and back injuries due to lifting heavy load.
Ugandan women spend as much as six and a half hours daily in unpaid domestic care work while men spend much of their time – 7 hours – in paid employment, according to initial findings from the baseline study by a consortium made of Economic Policy Research Centre, Makerere University School of Women and Gender Studies and Care International Uganda. Women’s involvement in UCW activities frees up men to engage in money-generating economic activities.
Through this project – which spans three years – the consortium aims to contribute to recognition, reduction, redistribution, and representation of unpaid care work at all levels. Entitled “From promises to action: “Shifting gender norms and public perceptions about unpaid care work in workplaces and families in Uganda,” the project is undertaken through the Grow and Economic Opportunities for Women for East Africa and funded by the IDRC Canada, Bill & Melinda Gates, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The advocacy training is part of the project activities.
Unpaid activities such as collecting fuel, water, and looking after children and elderly relatives are majorly preserve of women.
At least thirty women local leaders attended the advocacy training, where they voiced the challenges, they, and fellow women face – including societal expectations that they must do care work in families, and belief that only men should have to have money.
“With more engagements with fellow women and leaders in community meetings, church, mosque, and other places all this can change,” said one of the advocacy training attendees.
The project intends to stimulate debate and eventually change these societal norms towards UCW top see that adults share this work.
The advocacy training was intended at equipping women with knowledge on UCW, social norms that cement and assign women gender roles. The trained women are expected to share the messages with fellow women and sensitize other community members on the dangers of burdening women with UCW.
Birungi said their community was yearning for change and that they would look for ways to ensure that that change happens. She said they had realised that when the burden reduces, women’s health improves, they have more time to engage in paid employment and improve their earnings.
“As women, we should engage in community trainings, join savings groups and save even if it means as little as Shs 1,000,” she said. “This will empower us economically.”
Stella Tumusiime, a community member, said they need community sensitization to ensure that girls stay in school. This will help them avoid early marriage but also empower them with employment and boost their incomes.
Care International Uganda conducted the advocacy training. The research study is set in different districts: Mbarara, Mpigi, Pallisa, and Masindi.
Watch Video: ordinary women talk about unpaid care work and the impact on their lives.