Jake Lyell
Video Production | Still Photography

Visual Storyteller

Women’s Work

Published on October 13, 2009 in Blog Posts, Photo Essay | 3 comments


Gender roles are strictly divided in Sub-Saharan Africa – more so here than in any other place I’ve traveled. Women perform most of the tasks here from fetching water, to washing clothes, to taking a child to the hospital. However, few roles are solely set aside for men, except perhaps playing football or napping in the afternoon shade. A breach of code whereby men venture into women’s work is a sore embarrassment and one not to be done publicly. For the majority of those living on this continent life is hard. For women, the burden is harder still.











  1. I concur with your observations Jake. Did you see differences or similarities in these roles in urban vs. rural areas? I definitely noticed the lions’ share of work done by women in the rural villages in Zimbabwe. In the urban areas it may have been a bit more equal with men working in professions or trades during the day. Still, without the work of the women of Africa, where would the continent be today? Wonderful, story-telling images.

  2. Jake  / 

    Good point Gordon.
    Women definitely have high level jobs in the cities, right along with the men. Men also cook and clean for a living in urban areas for sure. But even in the urban home it seems that the gender lines are strictly drawn.
    Women are definitely the backbone of Africa.

  3. Pingback: Blog | Jake Lyell Photography - Photographer & Photojournalist | Tanzania & Uganda, East Africa

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