Depending on the prevailing agreement and arrangement you have with (y)our house-help at home,

There are particular jobs, broken down into smaller descriptions like tasks, details, instructions and check-boxes

Which, by your expectations as their leader, have to be accomplished and scored against,

Right?

Well then, has it ever happened to you that this whole arrangement you have been having, all this while, just vanishes in a split second?

Say over the phone or even in person when (y)our house-help has left (y)our home to go have themselves a period of rest?

Or even in a moment when they see you off to your workplace and thereafter make good use of this window in time to leave (y)our home and their job announced?

They have quit the job and you!

Hhhmmmm…

How is that first day, in change of routine and “living”?

Where you went on about your life, rest assured that there is somebody at home going to give (y)our home a whooping of a cleaning, cook you proper meals just like you want them, respond to service delivery agents of National Water or UMEME and generally, keep you informed of what’s going on ku kaalo?

Hhhmmm…and how about the second day and the third?

That bunch of thoughts did stream down in me as I was thinking of carrying on this conversation here

About the various attitudes and trends, we have in Uganda about unpaid and domestic care work.

Yes, I know for a fact, that this conversation is one of those that many of us don’t want to have but love to “reap” from, as it stands

In the name of what many of us have come to term as gender roles!

Let us begin with looking closer at this thing called “the patriarchy”.

I will try to break down what that word means, according to Mona Eltahawy,

“Patriarchy is a system of oppression that privileges male dominance”

She goes on to explain this further, by use of an octopus….where the head of the octopus is patriarchy and all those tentacles you see on it represents something say capitalism, sexism, racism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia among others. Furthermore, she says that depending on where in the world you live, either two or more or all of those “tentacles” are working in unison to keep that head of the “octopus” alive.

“People just don’t see it; it is like asking a fish what water is to them. It just won’t know what you are talking about. The very air we breathe, is patriarchy. It is glorified and it is universal”.

Now that we have covered that, I read a paper, recently released by OXFAM titled, “Generations of work without pay: How the unfair domestic and care workload is keeping women poor and worsening inequality”

Within it’s introduction, there is an argument holding that there are three key steps in ensuring that the unpaid domestic and care workload remains with women. First of all, women are socialised to shoulder the workload from childhood. Secondly, their position as care givers is reinforced by social norms and cultural practices and lastly both women and men are punished if they deviate from the status quo!!!!

Understanding these steps, and the ways in which the unfair work load keeps women in poverty through generations, is necessary to if we are to have the right policy and practice interventions to enable women reach their full economic potential and contribute to transforming the economy.

Remember when we chatted about the economics that we have studied over time?

These economies which are packaged so well, for the profit and privilege of one person over another or group of people?

And what these “economies” do to us?

Yeah, this “economy” and it’s major currency happen to be one of those economies!

This photo taken on June 13, 2011 shows a Chinese boy swimming in the polluted sea by the rubbish-strewn beach along the sea coast in Anquan village, south China’s Hainan province. China suffers from widespread water pollution after years of unbridled economic growth. According to government data, more than 200 million Chinese currently do not have access to safe drinking water. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

I think you need to read this report on inequality, put together by OXFAM named, “Who Is Growing?

It says that, in a nutshell, that businesses employ men, much more than women

And in event that all the people, out there, that participate in domestically caring and working for them quit, then the entire economy would grind to a total halt!

That is because men would have to leave their paid day jobs and stay home to look after the children and others who need care. They would have to clean, wash clothes, do the shopping, drop children to school and trade their boardroom meeting for that school meeting!

Male politicians, members of parliament, the president, would all have to put aside their grand callings to do essential unpaid domestic and care work! Imagine that? Wouldn’t that be nice, for a change?

My guy, when I touch that point, I bet your pupils are wide open in arms

Looking at a language you have been sucked in, to understand and relate with quite well

The language of money….the language of “providing”….the language of being “the head”….the language of entitlement to care from other people….

I challenge you to unlearn that language as soon as possible

And learn a language of equally contributing to this economy of unpaid and domestic care work!

Imagine that? Wouldn’t this be nice for a change?

~ Women’s unpaid care work, while not officially recognized in national statistics, is not only necessary for everyone’s wellbeing but is as valuable as any other economic activity. ~

 

Perhaps, we need to define care that goes unpaid as well as work that is domestic

Unpaid care and domestic care work is defined by OXFAM, in their position paper called, “Generations of work without pay: How the unfair domestic and care workload is keeping women poor and worsening inequality” as work done in service of others and motivated by reasons other than financial compensation. It can include caring for children, elderly and sick people. It also includes washing, cooking, shopping cleaning and helping other families with their chores.

Unpaid work includes food, fuel and water collection and other energy provision, informal unpaid work, family labour in agriculture, etc.  (Sida)

In there (Unpaid care and Domestic Care Work), there are 3 components that need to be examined closely

“Care of persons” is one of them. It involves devotion to mostly, but not uniquely, to the direct care of persons with care needs, such as children or elderly/sick/frail adults. The time devoted to the care of persons overburdens women (and men) who engage in care relationships, limiting their opportunities to engage in gainful employment, education, politics or leisure.

“Housework” is the second component of unpaid care and domestic care work. You can view it as household chores such as cleaning, cooking and doing laundry/ironing for family members, which can also be understood as ‘indirect care’.

And finally, we have got the “unpaid community work”. This can refer to unpaid care activities provided to households beyond one’s own. It includes work undertaken for friends, neighbours or next of kin, and work undertaken out of a sense of responsibility and duty to the community as a whole.

The way I see it, there isn’t anything made up of astrology science that we men can’t do, is there?

We can do all that…but this requires us to unlearn a lot of what we know….for we will need to slay the tentacles of that giant octopus we talked about…previously.

Once that is done, we must do all this work, ourselves first, for ourselves, before we can ask for help due to the overwhelming number of tasks we have to get done!

Any task or work you do, in this economy is directly reflected in your general living, well-being, lifestyle and character.

You don’t really want to be “that guy” who can’t even wash their own linen, do you?

That guy who always leaves their plate of food and cup right where they have eaten from…with all the micheere littered all over the world, do you?

Be the guy that uses his eyes more and “ego” less, at home and in the house, and at the community gathering as well.

This, in my perspective, is just how much we must do, at our very own individual levels….there is a much larger level, though….where a whole lot more work needs to be done…as soon as yesterday!

And that, is at the national level or government level!

At this level, which many of us ignore for personal reasons, a lot goes on….or is at least, expected to.

To begin with, we have what is called the, “National Development Plan II”. As far as unpaid care and domestic care work is concerned, this plan recognizes women as key providers of unpaid care and domestic work!

Personally, I would say they are the “keyest” providers we have, of care and domestic care work that we don’t pay for…

The National Gender Policy by integrating Gender in reform policies and programmes while the National Social Protection Policy offers policy direction in decentralizing service delivery, especially in education, water and health.

Wait….gwe guy, do you even what the National Gender Policy is?

Policies such as the National Childhood Development Policy and the National Health Policy all have a bearing on women’s unpaid care workload and strategic investments in these sectors would reduce the amount of time and effort women spend on unpaid domestic and care work.

Did you know this?

Indeed, reducing women’s unpaid care work is at the heart of women’s economic empowerment. Gender equality, as anticipated under Uganda’s Constitution, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the and the protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women, is only fully possible if we address the centuries old problem of women shouldering most of the unpaid care work!

Only and only, then!!!

Global and national development goals cannot be attained when half of the population is shackled with unpaid and underappreciated work for generations.

Manya the SDG’s and the National Development Plans ….those are the goals or plans we are talking about….

If we are to raise boys and girls to equally participate and contribute to the economy, we must start in the small and very essential family unit to model equal behavior, which includes equal sharing of domestic work. I love the sound of this… (hihi)

Our Government…in this case (the Government of Uganda) must put in place and implement laws and policies that will accelerate the recognition, redistribution and reduction of women’s unpaid care workload. This will in turn reduce economic inequality between men and women, enabling families, communities and the country reach development goals faster.

But remember, you make up this “government”…with your vote and hard-spent money called taxes! Do so cautiously, eeh…

Me thinks the Government should pour mmmoonneeyyyyyy into 3 key sectors that ensure we are all alive by the end of today….health, education and agriculture.

I say agriculture…not because I am a foodie but because without “good food and drink”, we can’t function. Everything will go wrong. Besides, these investments would have the direct consequence of reducing the unpaid care workload on women who provide most of the care to the sick, most of the labour in the agricultural sector and for whom education holds the key to access to better paying work in the public sphere.

Somewhere, in that mix, National Water and Sewerage Cooperation has to “duloopu di bomb”….so many of us have to walk at least 20 kilometres every day, just to access what we can call “decent water”, if that is even a real thing! If that is still too much, we still need as many boreholes as possible, littered all over the places we live, study and work at. That way, we tick off 2 very crucial items off the unpaid care and domestic care work checklist, si ndiyo? (Haha)

Hey….don’t even think of doing this when the elections have come….don’t try that shit now!!!

Capture the value of women’s unpaid care work in national statistics so as to value women’s unpaid care and domestic work and how much it contributes to the economy. What do you think about this?

Me thinks it is a great idea…we can always look back at this data as the numerous stakeholders that we are including women and girls taking the lead on this, the Ministry of Gender and Labour falling in there too, the Ministry of Education as well, our various Local Councils in the country, our Magombololas’ as well….olaba otya awo?

You know, it is widely said that if something isn’t written down anywhere, it didn’t happen….

Hi…hi….hi…kiki….kiki…ki….hi…hi…(claps hands repeatedly)

Guys, who came up with these things?

“Men who do care work are labeled, mocked and shamed for doing work that is deemed to belong to women. In Kaabong, for instance, a man who cooks is nicknamed, “loroomot” and perceived as greedy for always being in the kitchen. In Kabale, a man who helps his wife with kitchen work is believed to have been subjected to “kibwankulata”, a form of witch craft. Men who share domestic and care work are compared to dogs who stupidly follow their owners wherever they go. In the central region, too, a man who shares care is deemed witched and bereaved of all his senses except basic ones such as those to enable him cross the road safely- phrased as oyo bamuloga nebamulekera agasala ekuubo”.

Hahahahahahaaaaaaa….

I am sorry I had to laugh first before I could paraphrase what I read in OXFAM’s paper titled, “Generations of work without pay”

We really do a number on ourselves, people!

Have you had the saying that “the patriarchy rewards and punishes at the same time?”

Yeah….that giant octopus, with so many tentacles that we talked about?

That is where, we are at, unfortunately!

Where you are ridiculed for learning and practicing a very vital life skill, which you will need

And praised or glorified for doing nothing and learning nothing!

For one thing, as boys and girls grow older, the gap between how much time they each spend on care work grows bigger….much much bigger!

Can you imagine that so deep rooted are gender roles in terms of unpaid domestic and care work that most women, even when they feel they should get more help, do not honestly bother to ask for it?

I want to leave you some thoughts:

  1. How many hours of your day do you spend on unpaid care and domestic care work?
  2. Are you objectively ready to listen to what has been said about this subject?
  3. What if all the women that do take care of us, so well, quit at once? What do you do? Do you keep doing the same thing you have been doing?
  4. Are you ready going to slice up that “octopus” today?
  5. Are you ready going to work without pay?
  6. Are you growing?