jigéen

jigéen: female

To be a female in a Senegalese household is to be a hard worker. The women in my house do everything—they cook every meal, each meal feeding up to twenty people. They clean the house—each day sweeping and mopping the floors, bending over so that they are folded nearly in half. They take care of the babies, bathing them and feeding them. They do the laundry and hang it out to dry.

My sister, Ndeye, explains to me a woman’s role. It is above all to take care of the family, the house, and the children.

But what if you are a woman who works outside of the house?

It doesn’t matter, says Ndeye matter-of-factly as she folds baby Ndeye Fatou’s tiny underwear. To work outside of the house, that just means that your workload is twice as difficult.

I am so impressed by the women in the family. They work so hard, even when the boys in my house barely lift a finger and spend all their time watching football matches on TV. They love their children and form strong bonds with each other. All the women in my house, from my sister Nene to Ndeye, Rama to Diodio to my yaay are all so funny and smart. It is truly the women who are the heart of Senegalese life!

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