In commemoration of International Women’s Day, it’s paramount to reflect on the ongoing journey of women across Africa and beyond as they strive to achieve success in both their careers and their roles within their families. This day serves as a poignant reminder of the progress made, the challenges faced, and the resilience demonstrated by women in their pursuit of balance and fulfillment.

For many African women, the notion of balancing a successful career with a fulfilling family life is not merely a choice but a complex reality shaped by societal expectations, personal aspirations, and systemic barriers. The traditional narrative often dictates that women must prioritize their familial duties over professional ambitions, perpetuating the stereotype that a woman’s worth is solely defined by her role as a wife and mother.

Yet, in the face of these ingrained norms, countless women have defied expectations and carved out paths that encompass both professional success and personal fulfillment. Their stories serve as beacons of inspiration, challenging the status quo and reshaping societal perceptions of women’s capabilities.

However, the journey to achieving this balance is fraught with obstacles. Relocation, pregnancy, and societal biases are just a few of the challenges that women encounter along the way. The expectation to choose between career advancement and family stability often forces women into impossible dilemmas, where sacrifices must be made at the expense of either professional or personal fulfillment.

Personal anecdotes shed light on the intricacies of this struggle. Consider the experience of a woman who, upon starting her own business, faced the dilemma of relocating to support her husband’s career while jeopardizing her own professional prospects. Such narratives underscore the complexities of balancing ambition with familial obligations, highlighting the need for systemic changes to support women in their pursuit of success on both fronts.

In the realm of employment, biases and stereotypes continue to hinder women’s career advancement. Motherhood, in particular, is often perceived as a liability rather than an asset, leading to discriminatory practices and limited opportunities for women seeking to advance their careers.

Research indicates that while professional aspirations among African women are on the rise, the transition to motherhood often prompts a shift in priorities. The societal expectation for women to prioritize their roles as wives and mothers above all else further exacerbates this dilemma, leaving many women feeling torn between their professional ambitions and their familial responsibilities.

Yet, amidst these challenges, there are glimmers of hope. Legislative provisions such as maternity leave serve as crucial safeguards for women navigating the transition to motherhood while maintaining their professional identities. However, the adequacy of such provisions remains a subject of debate, highlighting the need for ongoing advocacy and policy reform to better support working mothers.

The discourse surrounding women’s ability to “have it all” is multifaceted, with divergent perspectives shaping the conversation. Some advocate for a re-evaluation of societal expectations, challenging the notion that women must sacrifice one aspect of their lives for the other. Others emphasize the importance of systemic support, calling for workplace policies and cultural norms that enable women to thrive both professionally and personally.

Sheryl Sandberg’s assertion that women can indeed have successful careers and family lives resonates with many, advocating for a reimagining of traditional gender roles and a recognition of women’s agency in shaping their own destinies. Conversely, Anne-Marie Slaughter’s critique underscores the systemic barriers that women face, cautioning against oversimplified narratives that overlook the structural inequalities inherent in society.

Ultimately, the path to achieving balance lies in collective action and systemic change. Employers must adopt inclusive policies that support working mothers, from flexible work arrangements to affordable childcare options. Society at large must challenge outdated norms and stereotypes, embracing a more equitable vision of gender roles and responsibilities.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us honour the resilience, strength, and tenacity of women everywhere. Let us recognize the progress made while acknowledging the work that remains to be done. Together, we can create a world where women are empowered to pursue their dreams, both in the boardroom and at home. In doing so, we not only uplift individual women but enrich our communities and societies as a whole.


Author: Patricia Abena Kissi (HR Consultant, Author, and CEO, SEDAT Consult Ltd)

This article is powered by SEDAT Consult Ltd. SEDAT Consult provides HR solutions in the areas of recruitment and talent acquisition, staff and HR outsourcing, HR consulting, training and development, salary benchmarking, compensation and benefits management, job analysis and evaluation, performance management, and general HR advisory. Visit our website: for more information or call +233 (0) 24 462 9245 and let’s discuss how we can meet your HR needs.

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