This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

An Interview With a Single Mother: How She Survives In The Indian Society

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Aishvarya S. Raghavn:

Anita Mishra is a 31-year old working woman. Confident, competent and caring, just like any other modern woman. She is a mother. And a father. With a failed marriage behind her and two twin- children, she describes how it was during and after the divorce.

The fight for respectable existence is a hard one for most single mothers in India. They may be widows, walked out on or divorced, or simply spinsters, the society’s view is still very narrow-minded regarding them. Like Anita says “‘Where’s the father/husband?’ is an extremely common question, from school admission to places like supermarkets. Every legal document requires information on my husband. On knowing the truth, Government officials change their mannerisms. From behenji/bhabhiji, it is now Anitaji. And their behavior exhibit mannerisms likened to a predator surveying its prey. I have no man in my life, true, but that doesn’t mean that I have no support or that I’m easy prey. I can very well take care of myself.”

She also described an experience that happened to her. A man stalked her for 3 months and even offered to marry her. On further investigation it was found that he was already married. “Since I am a divorcee, it is assumed that I am craving for a man in my life or that I’ll grab the first opportunity that comes along. Nothing can be more wrong, there are many single mothers who are happily bringing up their children and excelling in doing so.”

On asked whether she has ever had moments where she felt bouts of self-pity, she replies “Of course, you do sometimes, especially when you are fresh out of your divorce and there are happy couples around you. The reaction of people regarding you and your status in the society changes overnight. People pity you, your children, your parents, grandparents. The older generation, even your own family sometimes, they blame you, call you a woman of no morals, threaten to take your children away, even call you incapable of handling them because of your divorce.”

“Furthermore, my children also face the brunt of the society. Gown ups I can manage, but facing my twins’ questions is something I still have to learn get used to.”

There are many NGOs and upcoming organizations for single mothers in India that help single mothers cope with change, society and also rehabilitate the rural widows.

“When I joined the NGO, I was apprehensive, but now I consider it to be the best decision. Not only do I get to help other women like me, I have made a support system of single mothers for myself. I learned from working there that I had really got off easy. My situation is nothing compared to the women we have rehabilitated, especially those in the rural areas where widows are treated as bad-luck. Not just that, they are believed to have brought upon the death of her husband. Widows are still not allowed to participate in any ceremony including those of her children!” she tells, out of breath with indignation.”

And what about unmarried single mothers?

“Well” she says “An unmarried woman is an easy target for gossip and discrimination, those who want to become mothers have a very hard time. Adoption is quite a problem for them, and even after that, they don’t get the due respect. It’s not only a case of turning deaf ear to the gossip; it is also about answering uncomfortable questions which are sometimes downright rude. My friend once had to answer questions about her sexuality just because she was an unmarried woman who had an adopted child. People also believe them to be of low character, as to why, I am still unable to fathom”

Not everyone is a Sushmita Sen, the fight for a respectable identity in the society for single mothers still has a long way to go. But that said, I respect Anita, for being a mother and a father. For facing everything with a smile. For doing everything for her children without ever being bogged down by the society. For being what a woman is supposed to be- A separate and independent entity. A good, sound human being that the her children can lean on.

*name changed on request

You must be to comment.
  1. Arushi Singh

    Interesting how the option of unmarried single mothers giving birth to their own children is not even discussed. Is adoption their only option? Certainly not, there are single mothers who are unmarried and have chosen to give birth and bring up their children alone – not because they got jilted or had an unintended pregnancy but because it was a conscious choice. Of course they undergo the worst kind of stigma and discrimination among single mothers on the whole in this country.

    1. Menu

      Hi, I want to give birth to my love child and continue to be an unmarried single parent.

  2. shruti takulia

    i am a single mother in delhi, working in gurgaon. and am looking to find others like me to start a support group. any idea how i can go about doing this?

    1. deepa

      hi ,i dont want to marry i want to become single mother

    2. suman Mehta

      Hi, i am also single mother, staying and working in gurgaon.Looking for some group or friends to join them.

  3. so n so

    See this is what happens when u follow d other country's, I suggest u to take good things not d bad things, from others,get married n have children,any how u want to give birth n take care of d child, chose a husband of ur choice,where in u don't.

  4. Ashima

    Hats off to all the Single Parents out there ,,, Being a single parents is indeed a Tough job but from personal experience when someone asks me ,, how does it feel to be a single parent – my response is Adventurous , FUN , feels like you are on a ride 365 days an year ,, its upto us to like it or dislike it ,, and belive me liking it has immense advantages 🙂 .
    I am single parent to a 7 year old Girl child having lost my husband to cancer 5 years back ,, what have I learnt in these 5 years – a lot .. I learnt to be more patient , learnt to be non – judgemental ,leant to love people unconditionally – no ego hassle , learnt to be dependent on myself , learnt to eat as and when hungry , learnt to live life – and it is my kiddo who has taught me all this 🙂

    ** For all of you looking for a Single parents support group , we have one in delhi/NCR
    please get in touch –


  5. naveen

    Happy holi

  6. shachi bheda

    It’s amazing to know the story of a single mother and how they emerge out as strong winners… Can I know few NGOs in India that help cope up single parents like you mentioned in your summary.. Would be really great

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Yuvaniya

By Abhishek Karadkar

By Ishmeet Kaur Mac

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below