Speaking of single women with children means emphasizing a reality: 85% of single parent families are women; not to glorify or fall into some form of misery, but so that everyone can measure this hidden uncertainty in order to adjust our public policies and behavior. By identifying this vulnerability, we respond to the need for social justice and respond to the universalist struggle. At all levels we must raise their voice and respond to their needs, because the fragility that arises from many causes is made too invisible by dogmas that belong to the past.
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If the use of the term ‘single parents’ is correct because it involves men in an equality process, it has the effect of placing them in one category among many others. It cannot be about denying or stigmatizing fathers: we would be wrong to differentiate between the difficulties they face. It’s about understanding that these families are not all the same from a gender perspective. It is about compensating for a deep inequality in our society, which puts women in a fragile situation, by allowing them to bear the emotional, financial and educational burdens of a family on their own.
Politicians must address this issue because we must take into account the lack of time and availability to fight these battles. Because everyday life is too difficult for them and they carry the emotional burden of a family, they are often not represented. How do you find the time, the resources, the energy to invest more in a party, union or grassroots movement?
The issue of women’s rights inevitably joins the issue of single women with children because, like all feminist struggles, it aims to bring women out of invisibility or discrimination. Like Gisèle Halimi, Delphine Seyrig, Simone Veil or even the 343 women who signed the Manifesto of April 5, 1971, today we must refuse to perpetuate the myth of a woman who does not express her needs because society has banished her for too long Has.
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Political leaders face a formidable contemporary challenge: ensuring the conditions for independence and development for single women with children. It is time for this public policy blind spot to be addressed in our minds and in our actions. Our role is to give them the choice back: the choice to give their children a quality education, the choice to cultivate themselves, the choice to work the way they want, the choice to have a social life. By identifying the areas of fragility, we understand that the problems occur at all levels, as it is a set of factors that drive them into isolation and precariousness.
Secular and free tutoring
Balancing work and private life is less easy because they have no choice. That is why we must ensure that we develop ambitious early childhood policies: the more flexible the type of childcare, the less likely we are to lose our jobs. We have to be innovative, for example with childcare checks for parents with atypical working hours.
The canteen is an important lever for relieving a family, as it represents a financial and health issue for the children. From the first start of the school year after our arrival at Montpellier Town Hall in 2020, all single parents benefited from a rate of 50 cents per meal, almost four times less than the first rate previously granted. In Montpellier, this corresponds to 2,000 children eating lunch in the canteen, ie one in ten children. Some of them, who left their comrades every lunchtime for lack of money, can now benefit from a quality hot meal without straining their parents’ mental and purchasing power.
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We know how important school is for these mothers whose responsibility for education rests solely on their shoulders, because in the evenings it is up to them to help with homework, to explain an exercise, to accompany the child in its school career. The better the public school, the more confidence in it will allow them to feel supported in this challenge. In Montpellier, we have chosen to set up free, public and secular support in all the primary schools in the city. It is a way of sharing the burden of education, especially financially, by making it possible to save money compared to paid evening classes offered by private companies. It’s also a way of sharing the mental burden of a child’s education that all quality parents expect. Outside of school, in Montpellier, the creation of an allowance of €50 for the first registration of a child or young person for a cultural or sporting activity has made it possible to support these families, like many others, in the emancipation of their children.
deeply social problem
Our efforts to help these families must continue at all levels: housing policies, social dialogue, reducing wage inequalities… The problem of single women with children is a deeply social problem that confronts political leaders with the urgency: reduction all sources of inequality between women and men.
Reducing the issue of single mothers with children to a purely financial dimension would be an illusion by stigmatizing vulnerable beings at all levels. This short-sightedness has no place in a debate about understanding a social reality. These women can be executives, doctors, business leaders or positions of responsibility. However, they are more vulnerable to poverty: in Montpellier, 37% of single parents live below the poverty line, compared to 27% of the Montpellier population.
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Today, the dangers remain numerous, and we must redouble our vigilance and resolve to establish genuine equality and social justice. These dangers are easy to see when a presidential candidate uses populist forums to spread a backward-looking vision. They are also more insidious when legislators clumsily choose to stop paying family support (intended for single parents) in the event of a marriage, PACS, or cohabitation of the single parent. There is nothing to indicate that the new companion provides the necessary resources for strange children: This measure reinforces the isolation of single mothers and legitimizes a stubborn prejudice that the man must support the woman. In all matters, the legislature must be careful to defend a general interest that is not constructed against the interests of women.
This little-identified counterpart of equality needs to be brought to light to integrate into our choices and choices. The fight against inequalities and for single women with children must be part of reality, with strong actions that bring hope. It is our backbone, as women and men of the left, to fight this universalist struggle with all our might. Without this, we cannot be fair and consistent with our ideals, which defend equality between women and men, the fight against precariousness and the development of each individual.