Zimbabwean women in UK take over…as more money brings it power

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AFTER three years of nursing school, Agnes Makwara was poised to attain her dream – a job, not in her native Goromonzi, but some thousands of kilometres away in the UK.
She would be getting close to £5 000 a month, more than 10 times what she could earn at home.
The salary would support her family, parents and six siblings.
She would be able to make her family in the UK enjoy life while spoiling her family back home.
Makwara’s story is typical of thousands of Zimbabwean women who support their families by cleaning houses, performing in nightclubs or caring for children, the sick or elderly in overseas countries, but here is a catch.
Many Zimbabwean women in the UK have become richer than their husbands and the windfall brings with it some unprecedented authority.
A research by a Zimbabwean team on Zimbabwean families in the UK shows that most families have broken down – the cause being the change of roles as women are no longer dependent on their husbands.
The UK nursing field, in particular, brought some unrealistic salaries for nurses ranging between £5 000-to- £7 000 a month.
The women are earning way more than their spouses and they end up treating their husbands like children, sometimes forcing them to do household chores.
Naturally, Zimbabwean men do not mind cleaning houses and washing dishes, but they just don’t want to be forced as they find themselves being relegated to the level of their children.
As a result, cases of domestic violence, divorce and even murder are on the rise among Zimbabweans abroad.
Some Zimbabwean men are actually reduced to beggars by their spouses.
The employment field is not level in the UK.
Women can easily get employed compared to men.
The jobs that require looking after the elderly and supporting the vulnerable are more confined to the ladies who can work as many shifts, while men are confined to energy-sapping jobs.
“Zimbabwean women rank among the most mobile or migratory in Africa,” said sociologist Maxwell Makina.
“They fit in every job and can do anything for money.
“In that scenario, they become richer than their spouses.”
In the Diaspora, some Zimbabwean men work in construction, which is in variable demand depending on the state of the country’s economy.
However, some have become professionals and spend time in universities upgrading their academic standings.
Even if a man becomes an engineer, men are mostly not keen to work two jobs.
They are content with one job and that salary while women can do many jobs, thereby having higher incomes than their counterparts.
Other jobs filled by Zimbabwean women are less likely to be filled by women from host countries who consider such work menial.
They include caregivers and domestic helpers who take up the largest portion of Zimbabwean overseas workers.
“These occupations will continue to be female-dominated in the future and the high demand for such workers is likely to remain the same,” wrote Abide Shumba, a businessman and director of Jerita Investments in Leicester.
In Zimbabwean families in the UK, women are the ‘purse holders’.
Knowing how life can be difficult back home, women tend to send all they can to help their families and very few will remember their husbands’ folks.
This becomes a sticky area in marriages and relationships.
Overworking also carries risks.
Some 700 workers, mostly women, die each year following mistreatment by their employers, according to recent figures released by the Filipino House of Representatives Committee on Overseas Foreign Workers.
However, women activists say the mortality figure is likely to be even higher.
An anonymous source at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport said numerous foreign workers arrive home in coffins each week.
Most of the dead, especially women, die trying to impress their families through hard work and trying to be better than their husbands.
Patricia Makoni said: “Most men in the UK are lazy and always want easy jobs.
“Life is not that easy.”
Martha Mutema, a domestic helper who recently returned from the UK said: “The danger is always there.
“I have heard a lot of horrible stories of people who suffered abroad, but life is a gamble.”
Another Diasporan identified as Millicent had no kind words for some Zimbabwean men in the UK.
Said Millicent: “There are nights when I couldn’t sleep.
“I always worried about my children; whether they were eating well and doing their schoolwork.
“There is always that pressure to deal with than dealing with a grown man who is suffering from decision making and thinks that every woman is his mother.”
Roles seem to have changed in the Diaspora.
Some women are now breadwinners and completely in charge, while their husbands simply look on wondering if coming to the UK was a wise decision after all.
For views and comments, email: vazet2000@yahoo.co.uk

5 COMMENTS

  1. Anecdotal account, unrealible and misrepresentative piece of information.
    1)You have generalised that every Zimbabwean family in uk, the female is a nurse who earns £5000 a month.
    2)not every nurse earns that’s amount of money monthly unless they don’t sleep or rest every day- unreliable information

  2. Very interesting dynamics indeed.

    Please bear with me here coz my perspective will come out as offensive…
    Women behave like and would like to be treated like children. By this, i mean, they like to play, they like to be pampered and they like to be convinced that they’ll be kept safe.
    The dilemma however is WE, me included… the Zimbabwean men have been taught to treat kids differently.
    We have learnt to beat our kids into line, we have been taught to rule with an iron fist. Our governments to this day lead with that mantra… “hanzi varakashei”
    Kids are meant to be seen, not heard…

    This leaves the Zimbabwean man with no credible skills to manage conflict as the laws in the West are very different to what we are used to.
    So the kids are left to push boundaries as they do. The wives are left to run without the support and guidance they desperately need.
    Some make it ok, but again like children without guidance, most will be lost and the society loses more than it gains.

    Charity begins at home, where it all started. We are letting our women down by the standards we were raised by. We have to learn different ways of managing our homes and families.

    Let’s treat our kids differently, let’s explain how things work, more importantly, we needs to learn to sell our ideas… however good, if we don’t market them well… the very people we’re doing everything for will rebel and leave us wondering where we went wrong. After all we did exactly how dad taught us.

    No woman wants to be in the boardroom without a man behind her, and vice versa…

  3. Very interesting dynamics indeed.

    Please bear with me here coz my perspective will come out as offensive…
    Women behave like and would like to be treated like children. By this, i mean, they like to play, they like to be pampered and they like to be convinced that they’ll be kept safe.
    The dilemma however is WE, me included… the Zimbabwean men have been taught to treat kids differently.
    We have learnt to beat our kids into line, we have been taught to rule with an iron fist. Our governments to this day lead with that mantra… “hanzi varakashei”
    Kids are meant to be seen, not heard…

    This leaves the Zimbabwean man with no credible skills to manage conflict as the laws in the West are very different to what we are used to.
    So the kids are left to push boundaries as they do. The wives are left to run without the support and guidance they desperately need.
    Some make it ok, but again like children without guidance, most will be lost and the society loses more than it gains.

    Charity begins at home, where it all started. We are letting our women down by the standards we were raised by. We have to learn different ways of managing our homes and families.

    Let’s treat our kids differently, let’s explain how things work, more importantly, we needs to learn to sell our ideas… however good, if we don’t market them well… the very people we’re doing everything for will rebel and leave us wondering where we went wrong. After all we did exactly how dad taught us.

    No woman wants to be in the boardroom without a man behind her, and vice versa…

    It’s never about money, but belonging and being loved and respected.

  4. Interesting perspective.
    Zimbabwean or African women are naturally hard working, and hence this phenomenon is not restricted to nurses, but all Zimbabwean/African women I the diaspora.
    The only problem I see are insecure men who have always acted very unfairly starting in Zim/Africa.
    So question is, if you decide to move from oppression, into a place where you can be rewarded for your labour, into a freedom space, why liberate yourself partly? Why accept certain things and still stay under the bondage of an insecure man?
    There are many secure men who are enjoying their new found freedom with their spouses.
    No one ever brings up the issues which cause women to decide to live alone, one being promiscuity, which is what men in Africa use to prove their manhood.
    Let’s not blame these hard workers. Let’s only encourage them to use this wealth wisely, and to build our Africa with this wealth. The man of Africa have failed at this while mostly chasing skirts.
    Ladies, let’s continue to work hard, our brains are not attached to anyone, let’s also please, please, please, teach our young boys to respect women and to be good boys, and to fear GOD, and lead this by example. This curse affecting our men needs to be broken. Let us pray and fast not only for Proverbs Women, but first and foremost for Proverbs Princes and Kings, our men. Anything less should be unacceptable!!!

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