Single Parent Challenges – Leave No Single Mother Behind
Date: February 10, 2023
LEAVE NO SINGLE MOTHER BEHIND
Make Mothers Matter has long highlighted the inequitable distribution of unpaid family care work and how it prevents women, in particular when they are mothers, to access decent work and fully participate in the labour market, an issue which came under the spotlight during the Covid-19 crisis.
The situation is exacerbated for parents who raise their children alone, most of them mothers. Indeed, a single mother does not have much choice: she must assume full responsibility for both the unpaid work of running the house and raising children, and the necessary paid work to bring an income into the home.
Globally nearly 8% of all households are headed by a single parent, with 84% of them mothers. This represents 101.3 million single mothers, i.e. mothers living alone with their children – and these numbers are rising. However, an important diversity exists in their living arrangements: many do not live alone with their children but instead live in extended households, meaning that they are not counted – and mostly invisible to policy makers.
Between the challenge of juggling the unpaid work of raising children alone, the barriers they face in accessing decent work, and the exclusion and stigmatization from society, single mothers and their children are all too often over-represented among the poorest, with particularly dire consequences for the future of those children. In every country for which statistics exist and are comparable, i.e. mostly high and upper middle-income countries, single-mother households with young children have higher rates of poverty when compared to dual-parent households with young children.
Still, many grassroots organisations – in both developed and developing countries – have realized the magnitude of the problem and the importance of supporting and empowering single mothers and their children. Solutions and good practices exist, which may be transposed to other places and scaled-up. What’s more, these actions demonstrate that when single mothers receive adequate support, they represent an important economic force for development, both of their children and their community.
Governments have been slower to react, but some important steps have been taken, in particular in the European Union.
· Draw attention to the many and diverse challenges faced by single mothers, their over-representation in poverty statistics, and the necessity to support them to lift them and their children out of poverty, so that they are not left behind, a key element to the realization of the 2030 agenda
· Share solutions implemented by grassroots associations, supporting single mothers economically and socially on their way to become financially independent and respected in their community. To inspire other associations and governments to support, replicate and scale-up such actions
· Call governments to action: to develop and implement social policies which target single mothers and their children, while taking into account the specificities of their situation
For Single Mothers, Quitting Can Bring Extra Challenges, but Also Balance
Single moms who chose to quit their jobs have to navigate child care, health insurance and financial concerns largely on their own. But some have also found a sense of relief.
How many single-parent households are there in the EU?
01‑06‑2021 – Last year has been challenging for many working parents due to the coronavirus pandemic. Balancing work and family responsibilities has been especially difficult for parents with young children. At the occasion of the Global Parents Day, we look at single-parent households in the EU.
In 2020, there were 195.4 million households in the European Union (EU). Almost one-third of these households (29%) had children living with them. Approximately 14% of households with children (7.8 million households) consisted of single parents, accounting for 4% of total households.
Share of single-parent households differs greatly between countries
The share of single parents varied considerably from one country to another. Looking at the share of single-parent households among all households with children, six countries recorded a share of over 20% of all households with children: Sweden (34%, see note below), Denmark (29%), Estonia (28%), Latvia and Lithuania(both 25%) and France (21%).
In contrast, the lowest shares were registered in Croatia (5%), Romania (7%) and Finland (8%), while Greece, Slovakia, Malta, Poland, Spain and Slovenia all recorded 9%.
– February 5, 2023