Women in the village bearing a heavy workload
A new study shows that women are working almost twice as hard as their male counterparts.
The study shows that women work for an average of 15 hours a day in the agriculturally productive County.
In Upper Itabua area of the Embu County, in a sampling of work undertaken by couples, it turned out that women worked more compared to men.
Basic inquiries during community survey discussions revealed that men’s real productive time at work remained below four hours daily.
Senior officials from various departments including Kenya Forest Services (KFS), livestock production, social services, agriculture, fisheries and public health led representatives from the Upper Itabua area in bringing together ideas before finally adopting the area’s Community Action Plan.
The contribution of the couple to family work, profits and development came into play as experts from the Government sought to have the people in the region analyze how they could initiate profitable projects under funds set to become available under the Upper Tana Natural Resource Project.
The findings were unveiled at Itabua Chief’s Camp where experts from government departments in the Embu County, which is also expected to benefit from a chunk of more than $86 million (KSh5.4 billion) under various projects, is set to be launched under the Upper Tana Natural Resource Project. They were undertaking survey work to create groundwork on the choice of the needed and viable projects.
Leading the government officials was Eliza Kariuki, a forest officer, Chris Kinyua, a livestock production officer and Ann Kagiri an agricultural officer from the Ministry of Agriculture among others.
Husbands, it was revealed, appeared to spend more time mainly giving orders and directives to their wives or partners while women were literally involved in real and productive work from as early as dawn.
However, some of the men who attended the forums interjected defending themselves saying that giving “directives and orders” to their spouses and children was also work and sign of “good leadership”.
In many instances after spending many hours idle and away in the trading bases or drinking joints, women claimed that majority of men returned home to demand services including dinner and conjugal rights.
“This simple survey indicates clearly that men appear to waste huge amounts of time in non-productive and unprofitable activities when women are busy handling tangible income generating activities and positive socially attributes at homestead level where they are almost always overworked,” the report says.
In the survey, majority of women in Itabua normally wake up at 5am and take at least one hour to prepare breakfast. The next one hour is divided equally between tidying the home and serving breakfast to one’s husband.
After cleaning of utensils, women went to real productive work at homestead level starting with milking to work in the farm where food and cash crops are gathered, and at times even sold between 8.00 am to midday, a clear four hours of hard work.
Between 1 pm to 2 pm, the woman of the house is involved in cooking while doing house chores like washing and ironing clothes.
For about two hours between 2 pm to 4 pm the women feed cattle, fetch firewood and even sell some cash crops to customers.
Calculations indicate that out of 24 hours of the day, women literally spend up to 15 hours in real tangible work and are left with a mere nine hours to rest and sleep.
On the other hand, men or husbands for that matter, woke up at 7 am and generally go through taking a bath then having breakfast before pushing time to 8 pm when they start their real day by inspecting sections of the homestead and listening to news on the radio before issuing orders on basics issues requiring attention.
Majority of men, it emerged, do not go to the farm until 9.30 am but even then between 9.30 to 11.30 am, they return to home for a cup of tea. A large chunk of their time is spent inspecting the farm and doing very little tangible work.
After tea, the man of the house rests for about 30 minutes and returns to the work in the farm until 1.00 pm when he goes for lunch. After the meals, the man rests for about 30 minutes, demands water for a bath from the wife and by 3.00 pm, he leaves to join other men at a drinking joint in the local trading centre.
Before going out for the daily outing with fellow men, the man of the house spends time giving orders and directives on what should be done.
According to the women, most of the men return to the house towards 10 pm during which they are served by their wives who also have to brief them on the day’s proceedings and whether all the instruction given earlier had been fulfilled.
The man heads for bed at around 11 pm while the wife will be left behind for a while ensuring all is well including the children have done their homework and gone to sleep.
Analyses of hours spent by men in real productive work during the Upper Itabua Forum strangely revealed that they only worked for an average of three and half hours a day.
During the meetings, some men strongly defended their rather too much free time arguing that directives and orders as well as the fact that they headed families and provided guidance should also be considered as “tangible and profitable work”..