Case study

Umutoni Mathilde

Low wages force Mathilde and her husband to work for long hours, leaving them with little time for care work and engagement in community activities
The effect on my children is that they do not get me when they are in need. The reason is that I am always busy with paid and unpaid work in most cases.

Mathilde Umutoni is 43 years old, and lives in Mbazi sector, Huye District, Rwanda with her husband, Tuyishime Jacques (aged 55), and four children: an eight-year-old daughter and three sons aged six, four and one. Her daughter and eldest son attend Primary school; neither Mathilde nor Tuyishime Jacques have any level of formal education. Mathilde does some construction for paid work and her husband helps people and carries stuff with a wheelbarrow from one market to another. She typically does paid work for five hours a day, walking up to an hour to the construction site. This work helps to support the family, and Mathilde negotiates with her employer how much she will be paid depending on the amount of work she does. Her workplace does not offer childcare facilities or a crèche.  

Mathilde does the care work inside and outside the house such as cleaning the compound, washing clothes, cooking, fetching water, farming, and taking care of her children. She also sometimes takes care of the elders who live separately. Her children support her with the care work: ‘Other care work is done by my daughter and son whenever I am not at home. They fetch water, collect firewood, clean the compound [and] the house, take care of the siblings and sometimes prepare food.’ Mathilde also receives help from her husband when he returns home from work. 

The combination of too much work affects all of the family members:  

My daughter gets tired too since she combines school and care work at home. She does not even have time to visit her friends in the neighbourhood. My husband also faces the problem of getting tired since it is too much work for him. Whenever he comes from work late in the evenings and finds some work which is not done, he is forced to help to do it.  

Mathilde would like to actively participate in her community; however, she does not have enough time to do it: ‘I do not always have enough time to do mobilisation in the community work.’ Also, since she combines both care work and paid work, Mathilde does not have enough time for her children; she says, ‘The effect on my children is that they do not get me when they are in need. The reason is that I am always busy with paid and unpaid work in most cases.’ 

In order for Mathilde to have a balance between her care work and paid work, she would like some support from her family and the community:  

My family should have some time to be able to perform some of the activities. With their help, I can balance well my paid and unpaid work. I wish the community would help me take care of my children whenever I am not around. That is when I have gone to do the paid work. 

Mathilde would also like to receive an increase in salary for her paid work. In addition, she would like the government to provide piped water in her community, which would reduce her care work burden

About Umutoni Mathilde

Household (Nuclear)
Female headed
4 children
Contains male(s)
No care responsibilties for disabled people
No migrant(s)
Care responsibilties for older people
Children caring
Family/community support
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Activities shown are a single day snapshot in the life of the woman.