The toughest job in the world

Angela, a farmer returns from the garden in Kasese district. Angela, like thousands of other women in Uganda who have suffered from the unfair division of labour are slowly benefiting from has government’s affirmative actions which are harmonizing the gaps that have existed between men and women.

Angela, a farmer returns from the garden in Kasese district. Angela, like thousands of other women in Uganda who have suffered from the unfair division of labour are slowly benefiting from has government’s affirmative actions which are harmonizing the gaps that have existed between men and women.

 “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] –

Angela appreciates her husband’s hand in sharing family chores. From Gardening, washing utensils, cooking to bathing the kids, Ivan, has changed the traditional way a typical African family has operated.

Angela appreciates her husband’s hand in sharing family chores. From Gardening, washing utensils, cooking to bathing the kids, Ivan, has changed the traditional way a typical African family has operated.

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).

Next to the Ivan family are the Zakalias. Like Ivan, Zakalia has been helpful to his wife sharing family roles. Here, Margaret is seen harvesting coffee.

Next to the Ivan family are the Zakalias. Like Ivan, Zakalia has been helpful to his wife sharing family roles. Here, Margaret is seen harvesting coffee.

Since time immemorial, the ‘WORK’ of an African woman has never been quantified into monetary just because it is considered domestic and untaxable.

Coffee seeds. Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC), a Swedish NGO seeks to even harmonize family cultural roles to benefit small scale farmers.

Coffee seeds. Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC), a Swedish NGO seeks to even harmonize family cultural roles to benefit small scale farmers.

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)

Ivan carries a hoe while returning from the garden. Ivan realized that leaving every chore to his wife would work in disfavor of his family. As a result, he has been helped with resources by the Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC) to self sustenance.

Ivan carries a hoe while returning from the garden. Ivan realized that leaving every chore to his wife would work in disfavor of his family. As a result, he has been helped with resources by the Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC) to self sustenance.

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.

Zakalia, is seen washing utensils as his wife (not in the picture) did the cooking. Margaret says her husband’s hand has taken of a lot of burden off her shoulders. Family revenues have increased as a result of the team work.

Zakalia, is seen washing utensils as his wife (not in the picture) did the cooking. Margaret says her husband’s hand has taken of a lot of burden off her shoulders. Family revenues have increased as a result of the team work.

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?

Margaret prepares breakfast for her family. Before he husband goes to school (Zakalia is a primary school teacher), Margaret prepares a mean for him. As she does so, the husband does other chores such as feeding the pigs.

Margaret prepares breakfast for her family. Before he husband goes to school (Zakalia is a primary school teacher), Margaret prepares a mean for him. As she does so, the husband does other chores such as feeding the pigs.

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.

Ivan returns from fetching water. It’s something he has done for years now, saving his wife, a lot of kilometers back and forth collecting water that can sustain her family of four.

Ivan returns from fetching water. It’s something he has done for years now, saving his wife, a lot of kilometers back and forth collecting water that can sustain her family of four.

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

Margaret hangs clothes on the wire. Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC), a Swedish NGO seeks to even harmonize family cultural roles to benefit small scale farmers like the Zakalias.

Margaret hangs clothes on the wire. Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC), a Swedish NGO seeks to even harmonize family cultural roles to benefit small scale farmers like the Zakalias.

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).

Ivans daughter peeps from her furthers main house in Kasese. They have benefited greatly from the joint input their parents have done.The bondage between them and their parents has kept on improving since they were children.

Ivans daughter peeps from her furthers main house in Kasese. They have benefited greatly from the joint input their parents have done.The bondage between them and their parents has kept on improving since they were children.

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.

Angela returns from fetching water. Shared family roles put to maximum use, resources given to them by the Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC), a Swedish NGO that seeks to support small scale farmers.

Angela returns from fetching water. Shared family roles put to maximum use, resources given to them by the Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC), a Swedish NGO that seeks to support small scale farmers.

I I was privileged to document some of their projects in Kasese district, western Uganda dealing in small scale farming.

Ivan strikes a happy face at his home in Kasese. He’s among the small scale farmers benefitting from the Swedish Cooperative Centre.

Ivan strikes a happy face at his home in Kasese. He’s among the small scale farmers benefitting from the Swedish Cooperative Centre.

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.

Ivan listens to radio a lot. Whenever he’s not occupied with something, Ivan listens to his radio. He’s among the small scale farmers benefitting from the Swedish Cooperative Centre.

Ivan listens to radio a lot. Whenever he’s not occupied with something, Ivan listens to his radio. He’s among the small scale farmers benefitting from the Swedish Cooperative Centre.

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.

FAMILY POSE: Ivan and Family!

FAMILY POSE: Ivan and Family!

It’s one huge step from the African perspective.

42 thoughts on “The toughest job in the world

  1. 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!!!

    • 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

  2. 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 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

  3. 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!

    • 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!

  4. Pingback: Toughest Job Farmer

    • 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.

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