Combining work and child care: The experiences of mothers in Accra, Ghana

Waterhouse, Philippa; Hill, Allan G. and Hinde, Andrew (2017). Combining work and child care: The experiences of mothers in Accra, Ghana. Development Southern Africa, 34(6) pp. 771–786.



Work-family research has focused predominantly on Western women. Yet the forms of economic labour in which women are typically involved and the meaning of motherhood are context-specific. This paper aims to explore the experience of combining economic activity and child care of mothers with young children using urban Ghana as a case study. Semi-structured interviews (n=24) were conducted in three locations in the Accra Metropolitan Area. Transcripts were analysed using the general inductive approach. The results found women’s experience of role conflict to be bi-directional. With regard to role enhancement, economic activity allowed women to provide materially for their children. The combination of work and child care had negative consequences for women’s wellbeing. This research questions policy makers’ strategy of frequently targeting women in their roles either as generators of income, or as the primary care-takers of children by highlighting the reality of women’s simultaneous performance of these roles.

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