“It’s Hard Being a Mother, a Worker and a Wife!”: Researching Women’s Work/life Negotiations in Zimbabwe

By Virginia Mapedzahama.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article presents the results of a study which explored how women in Zimbabwe negotiate between paid work and familial roles. Women’s paid work and family linkages remain a neglected subject of research in the Zimbabwean context, because it is widely accepted that the nexus (re)presents neither conflict nor a contradiction. The analyses in this article will affirm the complex nature of the work and family interface for women in Zimbabwe. In so doing, they will not only challenge the common (mis)conception that paid work and family linkages are unproblematic for Zimbabwean women, but also illustrate the relevance of such research. The article reports in particular, the work/life experiences of women who engage in informal sector trade to supplement income from formal sector paid work (what I have termed multiple economic activities for subsistence [MEAS]), to illustrate that the difficult socio-economic situation in a failing economy in Zimbabwe introduces new challenges for working mothers that impact on their work/life realities. By demonstrating that women in Zimbabwe negotiate the boundaries between paid work and family in ways that are challenging and difficult, the article concludes that work and family linkages are as much an issue for women in Zimbabwe as they are for women in the west where significant research into women’s work/family linkages has been undertaken; what differs is the ‘magnitude of burden’.

Keywords: Work/Life Linkages, Work and Family, Work/Family Negotiations, Zimbabwean Women, Informal Sector, Motherhood

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 3, Issue 11, pp.171-180. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 602.136KB).

Dr. Virginia Mapedzahama

Lecturer, School of International Studies, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Virginia Mapedzahama has just completed her doctoral dissertation which was cross-cultural comparative analysis of women’s work/life negotiations in Adelaide and in Harare. Her research interests are in women and work, family research, African feminisms and African women diasporic identities. She currently teaches courses in sociology in the School of International Studies, University of South Australia.


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