Around the world, 13% of women are single mothers with children under 15-year-old, according to research. However, in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, there are 25% and 32% of single mothers, respectively. One direct consequence caused by single motherhood is child poverty and this correlation between child poverty and single mothers do not exist without reasons. For instance, since single mothers tend to have relatively lower incomes, their children are unlikely to receive complete education, limiting their career options. In turn, this makes the single mothers and their offspring more difficult to escape poverty, thereby forming a poverty cycle. Yet, some international organizations are helping single mothers by providing guidance and support, both mentally and financially.
Among the 34 OECD countries, Japan has the highest poverty rate for single mothers. Approximately 48% of single-mother families have no more than 500,000 yen or $3,500 USD of savings. Despite the depressing figures, there is the NGO, Littleones, meaning “little children.” According to the organization, its objective is to support children in both big and small ways since “children are the hope of the future.”
Focusing on single families in Tokyo, Littleones helps needy families in three different ways. First, to organize social events such as hiking and Christmas parties, allowing mothers to build friendships and establish solidarity. Second, to advise mothers on issues including education, legal matters and employment opportunities. Third, to help those mothers to find suitable housing.
Empowering Young African Single Mothers (EYASM) (Cameroon)
In Cameroon, it is common to find many single mothers between their 20s and 30s. Single mothers live in poverty and the public also discriminates against them. However, the government has not done much to help single mothers. Therefore, Empowering Young African Single Mothers has taken the lead. Similar to Littleones, EYASM believes that “children of today are the leaders of tomorrow.” Such conviction leads the NGO to a series of objectives, for example, to help children break the poverty cycle and encourage single mothers to establish self-reliance, self-esteem and self-awareness.
One interesting project that EYASM did in 2020 was the Single Mothers Empowerment Contest, in which the top five winners received money as prizes. The purpose of this was to encourage single mothers to become entrepreneurs for livelihood.
Korean Unwed Mothers Families Association (KUMFA) (South Korea)
The conventional social conceptions in Korean society make single mothers harder to sustain themselves and their families – the public perceives them as sexually promiscuous. Consequently, finding a stable job becomes a challenge for unwed mothers. Yet, the government does not provide sufficient financial support to them. According to the National Statistical Office and Bank of Korea, while the monthly income of the average Korean family was 4 million won in 2017 or $3,640 USD, only 200,000 won or $180 USD a month for single parents with an income of less than 1.55 million or $1,400 USD.
KUMFA aims to protect the maternal rights of single mothers and establish a support network for the mothers to exchange information. Moreover, the NGO also practically helps single mothers – providing shelter for them and their children.
Hong Kong Federation Of Women’s Centers (HKFWC) (Hong Kong)
According to the government’s thematic report on single parents in 2016, Hong Kong had approximately 56,515 single mothers, with an average monthly income of 12,000 HKD or $1,520 USD.
Similar to other organizations, HKFWC understands the need to establish a community for single mothers. Calling the project “You’re Not Alone,” the organization matches volunteers with the same background as single mothers, forming a more personal relationship.
Overall, it is more challenging for children coming from single-parent households to break the poverty chain. However, international organizations are helping single mothers, changing the lives of many single-parent families.
– Mimosa Ngai
Photo: Wikipedia Commons