Single parents struggle to overcome poverty and social biases, but the statistics and societal attitudes reveal they have an uphill battle.
Some of the news articles about single parents described and linked to in this post are clearly inspiring, but others may surprise and alarm you. They aspire to broaden our perspective and understanding of single parents and their experiences worldwide.
If you have trouble getting to these links, feel free to email me at email@example.com, and I’ll send PDFs of them to you.
A coalition of researchers in Australia is demanding that the government monitor and report the extent of food insecurity in the country and the groups most vulnerable to it. Floods, rising living costs and the impact of COVID-19 have contributed to an increase in food insecurity, targeting almost 2 million households in Australia, or one in five families. Miriam Williams, an urban geographer and senior lecturer in Macquarie University’s School of Social Sciences in Sydney, Australia, presented this call to action for government officials:
“What we need is a comprehensive food plan to ensure everyone has access to healthy, affordable, sustainable and culturally appropriate food across Australia. We need to consult the people who are food insecure themselves and learn from their lived experience.”
The Australian Household Food Security Data Coalition, consisting of nearly 20 academics, presented its Household Food Security Data Consensus statement to federal and state government officials but admitted the data is incomplete. Through mandatory reporting from the government, the researchers agree that a more accurate understanding of the problem can be achieved and an effective solution implemented. Based on a 2022 report from nonprofit Foodbank, Australians who experience most food insecurity include single-parent households with children (37%). Food insecurity is a condition in which people don’t have enough more for food so they resort to skipping meals or consuming low quality food with less nutritional value.
At the crux of this issue is child care. Parents, particularly single parents, are finding its cost more and more burdensome, resulting in many parents not working, working fewer hours or working remotely. But Spain may have a solution that could provide a beacon for other countries facing similar problems. The Spanish Supreme Court is expected to decide on whether to expand paid parental leave from 16 to 32 weeks. Single parent advocates in the United Kingdom supported this effort. They pointed to a similar exodus of parents from the workplace—one out of five—in part because of the cost of child care. Victoria Benson, CEO at Gingerbread, the charity for single parent families, had this to add:
“Single parent families have much less financial and practical flexibility than couple parent families, and we know that many single parents struggle to access and afford child care over the long school holidays.”
Britain’s parental leave benefit, unfortunately, is far behind the current 16 weeks in Spain; Britain offers one parent six weeks of paid leave. The closest the United States government comes to supporting parental leave is the Family and Medical Leave Act, which offers unpaid, job-protected leave.
Hundreds of single mothers in prison who are the main breadwinners of their family could qualify for a new program that allows them to exchange prison time for public service. This law was passed by President Gustavo Petro who explained the reasoning behind it:
“If they remain imprisoned and the children (remain) without their mother, those children grow up without affection and many, in the future, become criminals. That is the logic of violence and exclusion.”
This new initiative allows the women to work—unpaid—in educational activities, environment restoration, public transport or other civil sectors. For every five hours worked, the women redeem a week of imprisonment. To qualify, the inmates must also be convicted of minor crimes and be serving prison sentences of no more than eight years.
Belgium’s high inflation rate is deepening economic inequalities that continue to leave behind single parent households, among other groups, despite the decrease in gas and oil prices. The European country’s rate is a little more than 6 percent. The Testachats Index, which measures Belgians’ consumption and saving habits, reported that more than half of respondents are experiencing financial difficulties and are “increasingly pessimistic” about their financial situations. Testachats spokesperson Laura Clays commented further about these findings:
“Our barometer shows that the current crisis has further strengthened inequalities: the families most affected by the falling purchasing power are single-parent families, families whose primary worker has lost his or her job and families from Brussels.”
Adding to Belgians’ financial stress is a proposed tax that would add 20 euros to each household.
Nearly 20 million children in the European Union—one out of four—are at risk of poverty, according a report by Save the Children, a leading humanitarian organization for children worldwide. In one of the wealthiest regions in the world, the cost of living, climate crisis and COVID-19 pandemic have increased the number of children and families living with poverty and social exclusion during the past few years. The children most at risk include migrants, asylum seekers, those who are undocumented and those in single parent households. The EU has been taking steps to address this heartbreaking situation. In 2021, it adopted the European Child Guarantee to address childhood disadvantage and exclusion. Member states must provide “at-risk children with free access to high quality early education and care, free education and school-based activities, at least one healthy meal each school day, health care, and adequate housing.” Plans to implement this policy are in the various stages throughout the EU.
In Germany, many households are not able afford a decent standard of living because of the European country’s high inflation rate and rising costs of energy and food. Hardest hit are single parent households led by women, which comprise 88 percent of those low-income households. In this article, 11 working single mothers were interviewed during which they discussed eating less protein and fresh produce, skipping meals so their children could eat, or heating only the children’s bedroom or the living room for use as a shared sleeping space.
A Hungarian politician announced the government’s support programs for families extend to single parent families. Justice Minister Judit Varga was referring to the government’s instinct to protect all families and is constantly fine-tuning its efforts. For example, a child protection bill is being presented before the Hungarian parliament this spring. Varga explained further about the value of parents and children to the country and its future:
“Becoming a parent is a lifelong responsibility, you are tested every day. Raising children is one of the most beautiful tasks, but it is also a huge responsibility and challenge … The child is the most precious treasure of every parent, and for our political community it is sacred and inviolable.”
Hungary has gained international attention for the more than 30 forms of support it provides to families. Among them are family and child care allowances for divorced parents and orphans.
Varga made her announcement at an event organized by the Single Parents’ Center, established and operated by the Single Parents’ Foundation. Single parents and their children number about 1 million in a country of nearly 10 million people, the size of the state of Indiana in the United States.
On Thursdays, I share a blog about a day in the actual life of a single parent.
Instead of a personal post, I put together one where I assemble news on and about single parents nationally and globally. In addition, I share vetted information that can be useful to single parents.