Families Uplift Single Mothers in Africa

Families Uplift Single Mothers
Millions of women in Africa experience single motherhood as a result of widowhood or divorce. Single mothers often turn to their immediate and extended families for various forms of child care and parenting support. Families uplift single mothers in Africa by giving them the time and opportunities to develop careers while also raising their children. Parenting support from single mothers’ families can allow women to eventually support themselves and their children independently.

Single Motherhood in Africa

Widowhood and divorce often leave women in Africa to take care of their children without a partner. Single motherhood involves a variety of hardships, many of which are rooted in economic concerns. Women in Africa are commonly married off young before they have the opportunity to complete their education and develop a career. Some single mothers turn to prostitution or other dangerous forms of work to earn money and support their children.

Unemployment is vast in many African countries, especially for women. Widows, in particular, may face difficulties supporting their children because some families disown widows and do not consider women family members when their husbands die, according to SOS Children’s Villages. When a single mother is able to receive support from her family members, perhaps by moving in with them, she may gain the time and resources to find work and better support her children.

The Role of Family Support

When women in Africa experience widowhood or divorce, they often turn to their extended families for assistance in covering finances and child care. Single mothers who live in areas with struggling economies may be especially reliant on family support to raise their children. A research study on family support of single mothers in Nairobi, Kenya, found that the majority of women in the community receive some form of support from their family networks. However, the study found that the extent of a family’s support depended on family members’ age, employment status and geographic proximity to the single mother.

Family support of single mothers may be especially prominent in Africa due to widespread poverty and limited governmental resources to assist women who are raising their children alone. Families uplift single mothers in Africa by helping them raise their children, develop careers and escape poverty.

Next Steps in Uplifting Single Mothers

Families with single parents are disproportionately vulnerable to poverty. Women who raise their children without a partner’s support may struggle to find and maintain a job while juggling parental responsibilities. Single mothers’ families may provide some emotional and practical support, but additional governmental assistance is necessary to ensure the safety and success of single-parent families throughout Africa. Policies that promote financial security, social assistance and greater access to job opportunities can help empower single mothers in Africa, especially if women lack families to help them support their children.

In countries that lack governmental policies to assist single parents, family support uplifts single mothers and gives them the opportunity to gain financial independence. When families uplift single mothers with emotional, financial and practical assistance in child care, women may be able to seek out and maintain stable career opportunities. Further governmental action is necessary to support single mothers in Africa, but families can make substantial differences in the lives of single mothers and their children.

– Cleo Hudson
Photo: Flickr