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Charity MANDISHONA

Unpaid Care Work by Women in the Informal Economy

by Fungai Munetsi

ZCIEA National Women’s speaks on the issue of unpaid care by women in the informal economy in an interview at ZCIEA National Office, 13 September 2019. More women now earn a living in the informal economy which is a survivalist in nature and less likely to contribute to social security, and on the other hand care-giving functions in both the rural and the urban settings.

“The nature or face of the informal economy consists of a woman vending along the downtown sidewalk while attending to her children in the same space”, said Mrs. Mandishona. Unpaid work by women includes caring for the sick, fetching water from distant sources, collecting firewood and preparing meals.

Pregnant women in the informal economy will continue selling her goods in the streets until the day of delivery. Without a safe place to leave their children during the day, street vendors may have to take their children with them while they sell their goods in crowded markets and roadsides, and home-based workers find it difficult to both care for their children and work at the same time.

A sad incident during brutal eviction of street vendors in Masvingo where a woman selling tomatoes with her baby sleeping on the ground covered with cloth saw Municipal truck running towards her, she lifted a box of tomatoes leaving the baby on the ground. The Municipal officer saw the woman running and the officer thought today this woman left her goods and I shall crush those goods with the Municipal truck, he ran the truck over the baby thinking that it was her tomatoes and the baby died instantly. ZCIEA as an organization the woman who had lost her baby during the eviction.

unpaid care work is the main barrier preventing women from getting into, remaining and progressing in the labour force. Attitudes towards the gender division of paid and unpaid care work are changing but the ‘male breadwinner’ family model remains very much engrained within societies, along with women’s caring role in the family continuing to be central

There is a need to improve conditions in which unpaid care work is administered so that women will find time to be more economically productive through paid care work and participation in the development projects for their communities.

Maternity benefits and child-care for women informal workers deserve attention both from within their organizations and movements and from local and national authorities. ZCIEA is encouraging the Zimbabwean Government to borrow a leaf from the Ghana Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) which constructed Makola Market Child Care Centre which is run by the Ghana Association of Traders (GATA). The Childcare Centre is practical for traders as they know their children are nearby and in a safe environment while they are working. The costs of the centre are covered in part by the parents who pay monthly fees and a daily fee for meals. Childcare provision can be a way to meet these needs when public services are either inadequate or unavailable.

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