To pick up on today's World Bank and UN discussion on poverty, let's discuss a group that somehow winds up overlooked: single mothers.
The Women in the World Foundation has ventured on a three-part series covering the plight of these brave women. It appears the odds of improving their conditions are against them.
There are 27 million single women in the United States according to the first of three articles dedicated to the topic. Many of them will remain alone and despairingly poor, living at minimum wage with no other alternative. Unlike what many if us believe, the welfare system is not as generous as other wealthy countries. While most of them do work, they earn on average above the poverty level of $15,000 a year. Without the required skills and experiences necessary to move them into professional high paying jobs, they are forced to accept their meager living standards. Education can improve their lives, but those on the welfare system are no longer given an opportunity to study in exchange for benefits. Those fortunate enough to avoid the bureaucratic system don't earn enough to pay for tuition. In case you're wondering about those scholarships and grants that allegedly favor the poor? They cover only a fraction of the cost of higher education.
There are other obstacles single women face:
- Childcare. They are either unable to afford it or federal subsidies are disappointing.
- Health benefits. Minimum wage jobs don't cover the crucial benefits single mothers need to protect them and their children.
- Stability. Many mothers are forced to accept positions requiring different work hours. This makes it difficult for them to be more involved in their children's schools and find permanent sitters.
- Moral support. Most of the women's rights campaigns overlook the needs of single mothers. These programs cater to professional women working in cut throat industries needing a little boost to compete fairly in the workforce. Single mothers need to start with the basics outlined above.
Ending poverty is not an easy endeavor, which is why we need to move away from trying to resolve the issue on the sidelines. We need to understand the needs of the poor and provide them with the support to sustain themselves. Encouraging businesses to create jobs that provide that support is the first step in that direction.