Grace Chisi (not real name) works as an accountant. At 4:30 am, she wakes up to prepare breakfast for her three school-going children and working husband.
She leaves for office at about 7 am and knocks off at 5 pm every weekday to return home and prepare more food for her family.
With her experience, Grace believes that working mothers have a hard time managing their families better than housewives.
“It is difficult to balance work and family. We just have to make best out of our busy schedules through careful planning. For me, family comes first,” she explained.
A lot of women find themselves in Grace’s situation, in most cases. What should come first for the woman, family or work?
Marriage counsellor Ivy Kamata says women need to take family as priority.
“We advise women to put family before work because we believe they cannot concentrate or achieve their goals if they have problems managing own families,” she said.
Gender activist Habiba Osman stresses the need for sharing responsibilities between working parents for the benefit of the family.
“Firstly, we have to acknowledge the presence of patriarchy in our culture. We should understand that patriarchy already divided the roles of women and men in a family and community. Even at the workplace, it is believed that men should be the ones holding big and more important positions than women,” explained Osman.
She, however, noted that society was changing through efforts by government, the private sector and activists.
“There is for instance the He for She campaign being implemented in the country by the UN Women and championed by State President Peter Mutharika which recognises that women are equal to men and can thus, do any kind of work. We need efforts like these to end inequalities which still exist at home and the workplace,” said Osman.