Single mothers are getting more attention and aid from the government
SINGLE mothers need all the help they can get and it was heart-warming to see the prime minister take the time during a hectic walkabout to hand over the keys to a single mother's rebuilt house in Penang after it had been razed in a fire. Meanwhile, in Shah Alam, some less fortunate single mothers had their means to a livelihood destroyed because their stalls were demolished by the municipality on the grounds that they had breached the law. It is unfortunate that our treatment of single mothers is not good across the country because, generally speaking, their struggle for survival is quite evenly difficult. For, they are forced to face challenges without help from husband or, in many cases, relatives.
Single parenthood is not a choice to be embraced without careful consideration and when someone is thrust without preparation into the condition, most find themselves in economic hardship. A parent left to fend for the family on a single income almost overnight because of the death of the spouse, for example, cannot but face a myriad of difficult adjustments ahead. Both time and money become scarce commodities and, not unlikely, single mothers find themselves economically disadvantaged from several aspects. Where the mother used to provide childcare, a single father needs daycare facilities. For instance, where once a father took care of rent or mortgage payments, that duty now falls on the single mother. When she is a housewife, the situation becomes dire almost immediately and the struggle begins, which often becomes a battle of endurance.
Women are especially vulnerable when they are stay-at-home wives and mothers. Without work experience, single mothers, with their backs to the wall, must resort to self-employment. However, even when they are employed, being single mothers is definitely not a walk in the park. Juggling time alone is almost a blessing, but most juggle limited resources as well. As such the problems of single parenthood cannot be left unaddressed if Malaysia is to unlock the potential of all its human capital. The government, through the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, has provided financial support in the form of grants for small businesses. After all, as the maxim goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Single mothers may yet be an engine of economic and social transformation given their strong will to survive. And, for the sake of the children, a more proactive policy should be pursued to ensure they are not left behind.