Oxfam consultant, Lucia Rost, along with Oxfam's partners in Zambia's Copperbelt Region, SAP and Heifer, completed six Rapid Care Analysis workshops with local communities last month.

Here, we share some of the findings from the report. You can download the whole report, along with recommendations for project design and future RCAs here.

Participants in RCA 2 completing the one day recall exercise. 

An overview

The RCAs were integrated into the DFID match-funded GEM project 'Increasing women smallholder farmers' agency and leadership in rural livelihoods'. The overall objective is to develop good practice to reduce, redistribute and recognise care work, so that women can increase their income, agency and ability to influence decisions individually and collectively. This requires asking the following questions:

1. What are norms, perceptions and attitudes around care work and gender roles at the start of the project?

2. How does women's care work affect their economic empowerment and income?

3. What would be good principles to influence other stakeholders to be aware of women's unpaid care work and to encourage them to address the issue, especially states and markets?

Members of the GEM soy project at a producer group meeting. RCA respondents reported that childcare, and other care responsibilities made it difficult for women to participate in producer groups.

Usakamana - caring for, or being concerned about something

The first exercise asks for definitions and examples of care work. In the workshops, it was mostly women who spoke up, naming activities from all of the 'global care categories', like cooking, cleaning, child care and community care.

Additionally they added "taking care of the husband at night", "checking to see if everyone is OK" and "being concerned about soya production" to the standard list. Men, too, added supervision, instruction, security and planning to the list as care responsibilities they held. All agreed that care work was tiring and time-consuming, yet essential for the community and the family.

If the house and clothes are clean, your husband will be proud of you. He will not be ashamed to bring his friends over, they will think this is a very good house. - woman RCA 3

If everything is provided in care work, there is happiness. - man RCA 3

The communities also agreed that care work has become more burdensome in recent years. Deforestation and land conflicts were cited as making firewood collection more difficult. Diseases were said to have increased, meaning more time was spent tending to the sick. The move from an extended to nuclear family structure, and the out migration of young people to urban areas, were also blamed.

RCA 2 participants traveled to Kitwe town                                                RCA 4 in the community

Who does what, and why?

This is why we women in Zambia do not progress. Because we spend most of the time on care work, we cannot do the work that makes us progress and this is 

also causing us to die early. - woman RCA 5

The one day recall activity, in which men and women list the primary and secondary tasks they complete in one 24 hour period revealed, as expected, that women spent more time on unpaid care work than men. It was mostly agreed that men spent more time resting than women.

As you come from the field with a lady, she will carry firewood, go and fetch water, cook for you and make you food. She does more work. - man RCA 3

Discussing the reasons for the unequal burden on women, men and women referred to ''culture'', or "tradition". It was seen by many as "natural", and by some as Godly.

Women are born like this to work, men should not do such work - woman RCA 1

Because of the love women have for their child, they care - woman RCA 4

God made the woman as a helper, it is not the work for the men, we can help but it is not our work - man RCA 1

Women in RCA 2 work on their one day recalls.

Men, and some women, also reasoned that helping with care work would cause men to lose the respect of their community and/or their wife.

If you help women, they will start bragging to their neighbours about how their husband helps them. - man, RCA 6

Women themselves refuse to the helped. They say "no, my friends will be laughing at me" - man, RCA2

If you put the child on your back, people will think you're mad. - man, RCA 3

But women mostly disagreed with these claims. They argued that they felt "oppressed" (a claim also backed up by some men) and therefore unable to participate in work other than care work. Some feared divorce:

He might even marry another if you don't do care work - woman, RCA 2

What if the wife didn't cook for you? - woman

Then there would be trouble! - man, RCA 5

It was clear from discussions around the age and care work exercise, that these gender roles and cultural norms were being instilled in young people too, by both men and women, despite the recognition that it can have a negative impact on their futures.

When you are a young girl you are socialised to look after the home. When you are a you boy you are socialised to go out and look for things - man, RCA 4

Parents stop boys from doing care work and washing clothes - woman, RCA 1

Because the girl child over-works, she does not have time to study, so performance goes down - man, RCA 1

Participants discuss state level solutions.

Implications for Project Work

Care work is too much for us, even if you are in the field doing soya bean production you find you aren't doing it 100% because you're doing care work. I find I have to come back after a few hours to do care work, so the production of soya beans is not increasing - woman, RCA 3

Findings from the seasonal calendar exercise revealed that the most intense months for care work, and the most intense months for value chain work in both dairy and soya, were during the rainy season: November-March. 

Care work, particularly looking after sick relatives and child care, was hindering women's ability to participate in economic activities, and weighs on their decision as to whether they should participate in producer groups and projects.

Sometimes this work affects participation in producer groups because women have so much to do and they think people in producer groups are just wasting their time - man, RCA 5

Collecting ideas for state level solutions in RCA 2


After identifying the main problems and causes of these problems, the 'care diamond' that shows that care work should be recognised, redistributed and reduced at household, state, civil society and market level was used to brainstorm solutions.

The table here shows the best solutions for each level that the participants decided on: 

Report: P.47

Interestingly, participants made most reference to change at the household level. Conclusions always revolved around men saying they wanted to share tasks more equally. They never ended the RCAs by referring to solutions at the market or state level. 


Culture has taught us not to distribute care work but at least the things we're exposed to, the NGOs coming in, even this training, have shown us that men need to come in - man, RCA 3

Even the facilitators from SAP and Heifer thought that cultural change was the best, and most pressing solution. Only three participants in the six RCAs chose the civil society solution as their favourite.

So, what next? What to do with all of these findings?

Download the full report for recommendations on future project design and future...

You can also find more information about the RCAs and WE-Care here.

Views: 267

Add a comment

You need to be a member of Women's Economic Empowerment in Agriculture Knowledge Hub to add comments!

Join Women's Economic Empowerment in Agriculture Knowledge Hub


Latest Activity

Swikriti Sharma posted a blog post
May 2
Anam Parvez Butt posted blog posts
May 2
Profile IconBlanka Homolova, Lois Austin, Jane Kimani and 3 more joined Women's Economic Empowerment in Agriculture Knowledge Hub
Apr 29
Profile IconKatarzyna, FLORENCE AGUDA, THERESA OCHU and 2 more joined Women's Economic Empowerment in Agriculture Knowledge Hub
Apr 26

© 2019   Oxfam. Created by Helen Moreno.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service