The toughest job in the world
“She gets up before the sun has burned off the morning mist, lights
the fire and prepares breakfast. Then the goats, chickens and
the cow needs to be let out. When the children have been helped
getting ready for school and have skipped off up the stony path
that links the low, mud-built houses to the road, she rolls up the
mattresses from the floor and sweeps it. Then she takes a large
plastic bottle and walks more than a kilometre to a village where
there is a well. She comes back with it full, in lively discussion
with her neighbour who she met at the well. Both their husbands
have left the village and the burning question is whether they will
be able to find a job in town. They also discuss who in the village
will have time to clean their little church before Sunday.
By now the sun is high in the sky and the heated air trembles
above the red earth. She ties a colourful scarf around her head,
picks up her hoe and sets off again, this time to the family’s
small fields. Maize is growing in one field and beans and lentils
in the other. She observes that it has not rained as much
as it should have and that the weeds appear to be doing better
than the maize in the drought. Resolutely she hoes away at the
thistles and other weeds, takes a brief break to eat the maize
porridge she has bought with her, and then continues to work
until the shadows grow long.
The walk home seems long after her day’s work, but more
work is waiting at the house. Her oldest daughter is sent off
to gather the animals together and she takes a basket of dirty
clothes down to the stream to wash. On her way home she drops
in on her parents-in-law. Her father-in-law is ill and stays in
bed most of the time. She promises to speak to a local NGO to
see if they will pay for transport for him to the hospital in the
town; he has not seen a doctor for a very long time.
When she gets home she lights the fire and prepares the
evening meal; rice with onions and a vegetable similar to spinach.
After dinner she washes up and then sits down on a wooden
bench outside the house. A dog is barking at a neighbouring
house. The sun has disappeared and the children have closed
their homework books. In the gathering darkness they see lights
turned on in the houses by the road, but electricity has not yet
reached them. After a short rest it is bedtime, tomorrow will
be another, hard-working day.”
– [Swedish Cooperative Centre] –
So do you still think there is a tougher job in the world than this?
Agricultural sector has for several years formed the backbone of Uganda’s economy contributing approximately 37% of Gross Domestic product (GDP).
Since time immemorial, the ‘WORK’ of an African woman has never been quantified into monetary just because it is considered domestic and untaxable.
In the Agricultural sector alone, It is estimated that women do 85% of the planting, 85% of the weeding, 55% of land preparation and 98% of all food processing. However, decisions to market are usually made by men (70%), or are made jointly (15%). In rural areas, it is estimated that women’s workloads considerably exceed those of men according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
As the hunger crisis in Somalia continues to take up most of the world’s attention, the time would not have been better to refocus attention on how to support the over 700 million woman/girl farmers feeding the world.
IFAD further states that agriculture which is the main occupation of women in Uganda with 72% of all employed women and 90% of all rural women working in agriculture, why is this?
I believe that there are several reasons to this concern. Critical and yet lacking is the issue of the unclear gender sensitive agricultural policies documents and data. Even where they are present, women in Uganda do not have sufficient power to Influence some of these policies in their favour.
The continued school dropouts in are affecting the long term knowledge resource for Women farmers in Uganda. Coupled with a limited access to appropriate resources, technologies, markets and land, agricultural productivity thus has dwindled, if not remained
In the agricultural sector where division of labour has for long, worked to literally strain women farmers, the situation is gradually changing. First with governments affirmative actions and also the gender based community education which has worked to harmonize labour divisions. Another government initiative is the Plan to Modernize Agricultural production (PAM).
Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC), a Swedish NGO seeks to even harmonize these divisions to benefit small scale farmers even further. They support poor women and men to enable them to increase their incomes, improve their living conditions, defend their rights, and organize themselves.
I I was privileged to document some of their projects in Kasese district, western Uganda dealing in small scale farming.
Ivan a teacher by profession is a practicing farmer, naturally from his family background, He realizes that family responsibilities are meant to be shared if Prosperity is to be achieved.
From digging, cooking to washing, Ivan tries his best to take off part of burden from his wife. The pictures thus best describe the changing family roles that have slowly easened, call it the “toughest job” in the world for a woman.
It’s one huge step from the African perspective.
U are a creative and brilliant photographer Edward. This is a beautiful photo essay with great compositions.
Thanks Edgar. I appreciate the kind words from you!!
Edward – you have done it, again! Thanks a bunch..
Sussane, the most humbling bit is knowing how you are always looking forward to my posts. Thank you very much
Edward, these are amazing pictures of the typical Ugandan family and importantly your pictures show their lives with dignity, something not usual in pictures taken of Africans. Keep it up.
By the way, I hope you submitted that pic of the kids playing in water for a competition somewhere!!!
Wonderful images of a beautiful people. I look forward to sharing this post with friends and family.
Thank you Cynthia for appreciating and willing to share with friends. Thats an encouragement for me. Honestly, it is…Am glad..I look forward to seeing more of you here
Staring at these pictures, just swayed off the Monday blue! Astounding work Eddie!
Wow Eve. Mondays are not everyone’s good day. If i can change that, then am left with nothing but to blush. Thank you!
this is a beautiful story told well with the photographs. i love yo pics
Am glad you loved then. Looking forward to more of your visits here.
Thumps up Eddie,another classy look at farming indeed a tough business. I always say I am your greatest fan. Good composition.
You have always been and i appreciate.. Thanks for pushing me to greater heights joe!
This is a very beautiful post. Off to check out the previous posts.
And kudos to Ivan. That’s the way forward for us men. Share
responsibility with our partners.
He’s a model many African men should follow.
Inspirational, deep, touching and yet revealing of certain facts and harsh realities of life. Edward, you are extremely talented! This story makes me feel like I totally belong with those individuals in the story. Its like that is my home. And In the words of Twyla Sharp, “Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” Keep up the good work Edward
Thank you Bernard. Thank you for you kind words.
This is great work on a relevant topic! It local development at work
Thank you serge. I think Women and Agriculture is one area not reported so much on the media. Maybe through social media, their voices can be heard. Thank you for visiting my blog though. Appreciated
Totally Amazing post. I am humbled by this story. Thanks Edward.
Hey Edward. I really love the pic of the child in a blue shirt, top notch photography.
Consider putting a watermark on your pictures to protect your copyright.
Great pictures! Very powerful! It’s amazing she has the time to do all those things, and there’s times when I’m at my corporate job thinking I don’t have enough time to do anything. There’s so much we can learn from other cultures, if only we could have different perspectives on our lives and what else is out there, we could all live different, more powerful and meaningful lives!
great stuff Edward. Its a shame that I get to see this 1 month later! 😦
You had been traveling a lot. At least now you can accept. But thanks once again for choosing to look back at my posts. Appreciated!
I love your photos and style! I am linking you to my blog so my readers can see your pictures too, I hope that’s okay! Nice job!
Thank you very much. And i will certainly be an ardent follower to your blog..Thank you!
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all so, wonderful 🙂
I like it the way it is. So natural and on spot. You have the art in yourself not in the camera. Believe it or not Echwalu.
Thank you Ambrose!
These are some admirable, tough women! I can remember thinking that they put me and my “tough” life to absolute shame. What an excellent tribute to them and thank God things are starting to get better for them.
Your photos are amazing! Great job : )
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Wow! I just can’t stop coming back to this blog.
Kiden, thank you for making me smile! I appreciate your visits!
Boy, I used to hear about you but man, I have confirmed that you are an excellent photojournalist. Get me your cell.
Kasita, well, you didnt just hear about me, we have worked together one or two times before but i always keep a very low profile. Its hard to pick me out.
Stories worth sharing…Thank you Edward.