Every Monday as we drive out to the goat site, we pass scores and scores of women walking to the market that is held in between our town and the goat site. All of them have some form of a load on their back; whether it be a baby, a load of firewood, or a bundle of veggies fresh from their garden. Many of them are also carrying what appears to be a very heavy bag full of goods in their hand as well. They all walk at a fairly fast pace, some of them even trotting as they go, almost all of them barefoot.
Ashley had the idea that we should walk the 10-12 km from the town where we live to the market to see what it is like to have to make that journey on foot like so many of the women here do. So, we set out yesterday to walk the path that we usually drive in an attempt to immerse ourselves in the culture just a little more. Disappointingly, we managed to miss all of the other women and saw hardly any ladies the whole 2 ½ hours we were walking. Unlike them, we did not walk with a load on our backs (since we really had nothing to sell) and thankfully we did not walk the return trip home. I guess you could say we didn’t really experience what it felt like to walk a mile (or 6) in their shoes, or lack thereof, but nevertheless we walked long enough to realize this was nothing any of us would like to do each week.
Our vet often jokes that women here are equal to men and by equal he means that they have equal opportunity to work harder and longer than any man around. The women here really are unreal and are seen doing most of the grunt work. What it takes just to keep their house running is enough to keep them busy most of the day – gathering firewood, getting water, cleaning, cooking, washing clothes by hand, and walking miles to the nearest market for that night’s food. All of this is usually done with at least one nursing child being carried on their back and a toddler clinging to their side or crawling around their feet the whole day.
Please remember the women here today as you prepare meals, clean house, take care of children, or head off to your job.