Lushoto 3, Tanga

Case study

Mama Christine

Christine negotiates with her husband over her income earning work
CS19 Tanzania
My husband’s income is not enough to take care of the family and buy all our needs. So I discussed with him that I have to do some paid work so that we can solve the hardship of life by helping each other in taking care of the family.

45-year-old Christine lives in Lushoto District, Tanzania with her husband (50 years old), their four children (twin sons aged 14, and daughters aged 13 and 5) and her brothers (30 and 20). The children over the age of six attend school. Christine is a member of a self-help group in the community, which provides financial, social and other support. Her husband is a businessman.

Christine had a Primary education and is self-employed, working as a farmer on her own land up to one hour’s walk from the house, for six hours a day. Christine’s workplace is far, and she incurs transport costs, yet she does not always have money. She says, ‘I wish to get a working place near my home.’ With her income from selling agricultural produce, Christine contributes to the children’s school fees, and buys their food and clothes. Christine explains that her husband likes her paid work:

My husband’s income is not enough to take care of the family and buy all our needs. So I discussed with him that I have to do some paid work so that we can solve the hardship of life by helping each other in taking care of the family.

Christine chose farming because it is what she could manage. Other potential sources of income are bee keeping, rearing animals, vegetable farming, and running a small business.

Christine does almost all of the unpaid care work in the household. Farming for the home and washing clothes take up most of her time. Her husband helps her with farming for the home and looking after livestock. He says,

I first do domestic work in the morning before I go to work, and even in [the] evening when I come back, I help my wife to do some work.

Christine’s husband supports the home in her absence and her children fetch water and sweep. She explains, ‘I always organise my home before I leave and what I fail to do, I do when I come back.’

Sometimes Christine gets stressed and falls sick because she has too many activities to handle. She says, ‘my husband also knows that work at home is too much for me but he has [no capacity to change the situation] and my children are still young, they understand nothing about work.’ Her husband appreciates Christine’s work in the home: ‘I feel good about my wife’s unpaid work because she is taking good care of us, and I value what she does for the family so much.’ He says,

I would not like my wife to do [more] paid work [far away from] the house, because she would not get much time to spend with the family.

Christine says that since she does most household activities alone, her paid work is affected. She explains the impact that her paid work and unpaid care work have on each other:

Sometimes, I fail to do house work at home because of paid work. Sometimes I report to work late, but I always prepare my timetable so it does not happen every day.

Community participation also affects her paid work because it is mandatory to attend activities. Her children do not get time to play or study because they spend too much time participating in care work, community meetings or paid work when she is not home.

Christine says, ‘I am too busy and the little time I have is for my family. When you don’t have a maid, it becomes difficult.’ However, she avoids getting stressed. Christine’s income enables her to buy the children’s school uniforms, pay for health services, school fees and food. She leaves what she cannot do. To improve the situation, Christine would distribute unpaid care activities to her family members – for example, one would wash dishes and another would help with cutting grass for the animals, so that the main carer is not burdened.

Although government services are fairly standardised across Tanzania, access to key services such as water sources, health centres and transport is often limited or problematic. Services also vary depending on location, for example, electricity is accessible in urban areas but not in rural. Also significantly, there are currently no childcare services provided by the government or within workplaces by employers.   

Christine wants improvement in farming techniques so that she gets better yields. She thinks the government should build hospitals, provide free medicine, improve water supply services and provide pesticides. Christine’s husband agrees that the government should build good hospitals and says,

Pregnant women should be given free treatment.

He also suggests that, ‘people should be trained by education practitioners, agriculture experts and doctors about diseases. The government should favour women, especially married ones.’ Christine concludes:

The government should also support their small groups by investing money, so that women can get loans at a low interest rate.

About Mama Christine

Household (Extended)
Male headed
4 children
Contains male(s)
No care responsibilties for disabled people
No migrant(s)
No care responsibilties for older people
Vegetable Value Chain project
Family/community support
Paid care
Public services
Towards a double boon
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Activities shown are a single day snapshot in the life of the woman.