Motherhood; Delaying Women and Girls

Emily Miki
Posted January 12, 2017 from Cameroon

`With no babysitter I had to carry my daughter around when I went out to work'

Having a baby is an experience every woman should have because of the joy a baby brings to the home be it in a married couple or a single parent situation. The experience of bearing a child in our wombs brings along a special bond to all children and humanity as a whole; a bond of love.

But then looking back at the time lost by several classmates, friends, sisters, and even colleagues, the stressful moments of caring for the infant child, getting them ready forschool, rushing them to the health centre discourages some women from bearing their own children. Not to mention the lack of gratitude from the man for all the sacrifices made by the woman in caring for the child, forgoing her dreams, plans and visons for the growth of the child is another emotional challenge that child-bearing brings on the table for mothers.

In the typical Cameroonian culture which plagues rural and poor girls and women is the abandonment of this girls and women when they get pregnant, no emotional support from the father of the baby, insults and mockery from the family and the community in general. In a nation where abortion isn't legalised these young girls for fear of being ridiculed, go in for harsh and crooked methods of making away with the pregnancy which most often leads to their future infertility and in worst case scenarios to their death. With no support system for young pregnant girls or poor pregnant women the baby who was supposed to bring joy which is the only payment in motherhood instead comes with a delaying factor, affecting the woman's health, farming, schooling, petite business and which ever thing she was previously involved in or was planning to take up in the future. Not to mention the never present men most of whom spend their time amongst their friends in beer parlors, do not provide money for health care and antenatals and even proper feeding for the pregnant mother. This situations and more put pregnant girls and women through a lot of psychological stress leading to very prominent health problems like pre-eclampsia which is now a major cause of maternal and neonatal deaths in the country.

With no perfect support system put in place for expectant mothers, schooling mothers, and all like is the case of the Western world where in countries like Germany women with children are paid some money by the Government to help them care for the child, or the case of the United States of America where scholarships are awarded to schooling moms to help them through the educational process while bringing up the baby. This is because these Governments and the people of these countries have seen the importance of supporting a woman in the child bearing process, giving that this support provides a financial and physiological aid to the mother and the child, providing a solution to fight against both maternal and neonatal deaths.

With the challenging aspect of caring for the baby in her early ages of 0-3 the typical poor mother is kept down and delayed for this number of years. With the present lack of babysitters for the average mother who can afford it is created new jobs in the likes of Day Care Centres which are mostly found in the cities, are also expensive and not feasible for the young or poor mother. So for the first 3 years of motherhood the mother's dreams and visions are pulled back to a moment of struggling between caring for the child, looking for a family whom you can leave the baby with in order to pick up part time jobs in other to be able to meet up with the financial obligations of child care. In my case my mum was there to support me in the first 7 months of my baby's life in Yaounde where I was residing before now after which she left for Limbe. After her return I had to carry my daughter around with me when going to cyber cafes, work and school since I was handling both at the same time. It got so hectic that I finally had to move from Yaounde back home to Limbe so that I could leave the baby home with her while I went around picking up partner jobs to care for the baby, save for my organisation's establishment. Without my mum what I have been able to do in this first 3 years of my daughter's life would not have been possible.

Such support systems and persons are most needed by every mother in the moments of caring out the work of childbearing, child caring and growth. This work which is so unpaid financially could be commended for by the putting in place of a system of support to assist the young and poor mothers who struggle all alone during the motherhood process.

This story was submitted in response to Unpaid Work.

Comments 2

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May 23, 2017
May 23, 2017

You have painted a true picture of motherhood in most parts of Africa and some parts of Asia. Unpaid care work can be such a huge burden on women. Sometimes called the Motherhood Penalty, the burden of baby-sitting and home-building affects a negatively affects women empowerment and corporate leadership.

With increased advocacy for Parent Smart initiatives like paternity leave, workplace day-care services and work flexibility for women, the burden can be reduced and every woman would enjoy the joy of motherhood while having a fulfilling and rewarding career.