Challenges and coping strategies of employed mothers in a social security scheme in Tanzania
This article explores the challenges facing working mothers, both at work and home, and their coping strategies. The study involved in-depth interviews with 25 working mothers, and 11 male and female administrative staff in a social security scheme, the PPF Pensions Funds, in Ilala municipality, Dar es Salaam region, Tanzania. Working mothers face individual, societal, and organizational challenges at work. These include the lack of confidence due to insecurity, mistrust between working mothers and other staff members, gender and cultural stereotypes, unwanted family planning, discrimination and disregard, administration problems, and sexual harassment. At home, working mothers encounter social and economic challenges, including limited time to engage in family and social issues, managing family and work roles, and creating additional income. Mechanisms for coping with these challenges include building confidence; developing hardworking spirit; reporting sexual harassment; following work rules, regulations, and instructions; use of family planning; planning activities well; assistance by husbands and relatives; hiring domestic workers; and sending children to boarding schools. The study is informed by the work-family border theory to establish different challenges that contradict expected equilibrium between work and family responsibilities experienced by working mothers. Moreover, the agency theory assisted to explain strategies employed by working mothers to cope with their situations.
Keywords: working mothers, work-family conflict, challenges, coping, agency, Tanzania