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.
The algorithms developed to approve borrowers for credit limits and loans have been found to discriminate against women and people of color. Goldman Sachs, one of the investment banks responsible for the Great Recession, created this technology for the iPhone-based Apple Card and its online banking platform, Marcus. An algorithm essentially solves a problem through specified actions; an example is a computer program. Goldman has argued that the allegations of bias are rooted not in its algorithms but rather its practice of allowing only individuals, not joint borrowers or co-signers, to apply for and secure loans. Experts agree that this approach would disproportionately benefit men who earn more than women. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a nonprofit that works with financial institutions and lawmakers to end discrimination in lending, housing and business, found that individual borrowers are more likely to have more expensive subprime loans that joint borrowers. And regarding its impact on single mothers, NCRC chief executive Jesse Van Tol had this to add:
“‘Typically, the fact that joint borrowers are treated differently than single borrowers creates a disparate impact on African-American women because they are statistically more likely to be single mothers.’”
Women fought against the banking industry in the 1970s, so they could obtain credit cards without their husband’s approval. This financial freedom does not need to be threatened; banks just need to modify how loans and credit limits are determined. And with more tech giants entering the consumer finance industry, algorithms must be evaluated to prevent gender bias.
China, the second-largest economy, is realizing that babies are essential to maintaining its competitive edge globally. Thus, the Communist Party has been loosening its family planning laws and removing fines against unwed mothers in some areas of the country. However, these efforts combined with the institution of the two-child policy have done little to reverse the country’s slowing birthrate that reached its lowest level in 2018. Experts point to “financial pressures, high housing prices and the demands of work” as the main roadblocks discouraging single and married women from having children. As China acknowledges the declining fertility rate, attitudes are changing toward single parents, reflecting those of other nations:
“In a survey released in 2016 of about 2,800 Chinese by three NGOs including the Rainbow Lawyers Network, more than 86 percent of respondents said it was acceptable for a single woman to have a child, and 75 percent said it was acceptable for lesbian couples to have children.”
This noteworthy shift in perspective is a good start but boosting fertility rates involves these more monumental changes: more independence for women, a departure from patriarchal structures and the legal recognition of children born to single mothers.
The United Nations intervened on behalf of a single mother and her children who were among tens of thousands of people evicted from their homes during the housing crisis of the mid-2000s. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights found that Madrid “had violated the family’s right to housing by failing to consider their vulnerability and should prevent similar cases from happening.” Even though the committee does not have any enforcement powers, its examination pointed to the need for governments to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its constituents. The mother filed a complaint with the committee after several years of fighting the eviction in court. She lost her housing after discovering that the person to whom she had been paying her rent was not the legal property owner. Her attempts to seek social housing failed on the grounds that she and her children were considered illegal occupants of their residence. As a result, they bounced from shelter to shelter. More than 75,000 evictions have taken place since the housing bubble burst and the global financial crisis began in 2007.
Oakland, CA, is not unlike many urban communities populated with vacant houses. Two homeless women, one of whom is a single mother raising two children and working two jobs, decided to occupy one such house in the city where they were born and raised. The women formed a collective called Moms 4 Housing in support of their mission to find housing for homeless people, the number of which is comparable to the number of vacant houses in the city. Single mother Sameerah Karim pointed out:
“You need shelter to be sustainable, to go out to work and be productive and take care of your family and your mental state. Without that, everything just goes awry. You start to fall apart.”
The house’s owner is a business that flips residences throughout the country, which may explain why the house had been standing vacant for at least two years. The Moms 4 Housing approach is in no way a sustainable solution. Landlords must be incentivized to sell properties to people in need through city, state and federal policies and potential homeowners must seek aid through nonprofits to purchase them. In the meantime, the two women hope to strike a deal with the house’s owner and make their house a home.
Tens of thousands of children are abandoned in Morocco each year, according to Aicha Ech-chenna, activist and founder of Feminine Solidarity Association. Her nonprofit helps single mothers, so they do not need to take to the streets and be subjected to inhumane conditions. These and other undocumented children fall into this legal category because they were born from single mothers and undocumented marriages or victims of parental neglect. If a child is undocumented, they are not able to avail themselves of certain rights and benefits; thus, government officials are requesting that “parental recognition” procedures for undocumented children be modified.
On Thursdays, I share a blog about a day in the actual life of a single parent. Every fourth Thursday, instead of a personal post, I put together one where I assemble news on and about single parents nationally and globally.
I would love to hear from you! Feel free to send any comments and questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also on Twitter @parentsonurown and can be found by searching #singleparentandstrong.