MONICA LAMBON-QUAYEFIO

GHANA

'I have always  believed that education is a powerful tool to empower women in  sub-Saharan Africa, where it has been known to reduce early marriage and  fertility, increase the likelihood of wage employment and improve  autonomy in decision making. What I underestimated is the formidable  force of social and cultural norms on the road to complete women  empowerment. I find it interesting that in Ghana, even though women have  been empowered through education, the cultural and social dial on  expectations of women with regards to domestic and unpaid care work has  been sluggish. Like women with little or no education, highly educated  women continue to bear a greater burden of unpaid care work compared to  their male partners.  Official statistics show that educated and  employed women in Ghana spend three times more of their time on domestic  and unpaid care work compared to men. This incompatibility between  domestic responsibilities and formal paid employment presents additional  hurdles for women to live out their full potential in formal  employment. In some cases, women have been forced to pull out of formal  sector employment for more flexible jobs in the informal sector to allow  them to fulfil their ‘primary’ responsibilities while earning an  income.  These expectations often lead to a situation where women are  funnelled into lower paid jobs and vulnerable employment with limited  social security benefits, increased stress and compromised mental  health, thereby, perpetuating a cycle of financial dependence on male  partners and fuelling the wheels of patriarchy in our society.'

MONICA LAMBON-QUAYEFIO