Becoming an ‘Amai’: Meanings and experiences of motherhood amongst Zimbabwean women living in Melbourne, Australia Academic Article uri icon


  • little is known about the meanings and experiences of motherhood among Zimbabwean migrant women. This paper discusses the meanings and experiences of motherhood from the perspectives of Zimbabwean migrant women living in Melbourne, Australia.qualitative methods (in-depth interviewing, photo elicitation and drawing) were conducted with 15 Zimbabwean women who had children in Zimbabwe and in Australia. Data were analysed using thematic analysis method.Zimbabwean women defined motherhood in varied ways. Common to all women was that becoming a mother had a significant meaning. Motherhood came with a sense of responsibility for children which resulted from their compromise and sacrifice. The dedication was exhibited by participants who demonstrated commitment to motherhood when striving to be a good mother. While motherhood provided pleasure and joy, some women found the role of motherhood burdensome in their new homeland. Due to cultural expectations of motherhood, women kept their difficulties silent for fear of being judged a 'bad mother'. The unfamiliarity with the health and social care systems in Australia presented challenges to these women. Often, they were treated without respect and felt discriminated against.our findings reveal the paradox of motherhood. Although motherhood can be burdensome, there are positive changes brought about by the process of motherhood. Due to a lack of knowledge about the health and social care system and the negative experiences with health care in Australia, the women felt overwhelmed about becoming a mother in providers, including midwives, need to understand how migrant women perceive and experience motherhood and their mothering role as this will help to improve the health and social care for these women and their children. Findings from this study provide a basis for further investigation into the formation and strengthening of support networks for Zimbabwean mothers in particular, and to other migrant women in general.

publication date

  • 2017