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“I’m a Mother Too!”: How Society Perceives Single Mothers

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By Shivangi Singh:

From a very tender age, a girl starts nurturing the people or the things in her surroundings. While a boy’s childhood is filled with toys like guns that promote destructive tendencies, a girl plays with her dollhouse, tending to each and every need of all her toys. She nurtures and cares for even her imaginary friends. Fortunately for the world, a girl transforms into a woman with the same thought at core. Top management institutions in India recently took the initiative to reserve 50% seats for women not because of political pressure but due to the realization that in order to truly and phenomenally develop an organization, the presence of the female psyche is highly important. It has been recognized that home management, which for ages has been done predominantly by women, is the most complex and stressful form of management.

Inside every girl is a mother, who nurtures, cares, loves and sees the best in everyone. It’s not uncommon to see a young girl elated at the sight of a baby and a boy of the same age flinching from it. It’s an indicator of their inherent thought process. A woman has the capability to take care of any child as her own. Therefore, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state that a woman can easily bring up a child without the presence of a man. Globally, 90% of children and teenagers working as baby-sitters are girls, mostly because the parents don’t trust boys with the job. In our society too, if relatives have to leave urgently for some place without their child, they entitle a girl in the house with the duty to take care of the child. Then why do the same people question a strong, independent woman when she seeks to brave everything and bring up a child as her own entirely by herself, is beyond understanding.

In a society that runs more on gossip than facts, the real problem is that the misunderstood lot is forced to remain in their sorry state, because no one lends ears to their pleas. As soon as the myopic society sees an unmarried woman with a child, the gossip mills start churning out the spiciest chunks. The single mother is seen as an easy target. Everything from her character, morality and clothes to her parents are questioned.  The worst part is the social stigma attached to single mothers, condemning them to feel left-out, lonely and even guilty. Single mothers are sinners in the eyes of our society. The same society then organizes a grand function and invites Sushmita Sen for inauguration; she is after all a fine example of a successful woman- highlighting the wide class divide in India. Why can’t the same rules apply to the middle class and the celebrities? Is it really necessary to make a poor, innocent lady’s life miserable in the name of moral policing? Society strongly needs to question itself on this one!

While it’s too strong a dream for an Indian girl from the lower class, an upper middle class single mother is discriminated against and made to suffer awful lot of embarrassment at schools and hospitals refusing to take admissions without the father’s name properly in place. However, the basic problem faced by single mothers is not the society or these institutions but their own parents or families. The relatives question the girl’s moral fabric while the parents take the bitter pill for indecent upbringing. Consequently, unhappy parents constantly demoralise their daughter. All that the parents wish for is to leave their children with a loving family. This purpose can be solved by single motherhood, provided single mothers are given their fair share of rights to live in this society without being stereotyped as outcasts.

The young ladies of India are a powerful and ambitious lot. They are aware of just how capable they are in handling all aspects of life with the perfect balance and with refined education and unmatched financial status; women have definitely proved their mettle. When they chose to assert their freedom and be the mother they always wanted to be and nurture a child single-handedly, they send out a strong message to the sickly male-dominated society that yells out loud that they are individuals with equal rights and capabilities. The reason why the society is so uptight about single mothers and their status is because they are scared of the women power. They fear their traditions would be challenged. The ego that blinds them threatens them to attach the stigma and to stereotype single mothers. The single mothers today are proving them wrong.

You must be to comment.
  1. Manisha Chachra

    it makes a lot of sense.the article very well convinces the reader to revere a single mother who discharges her responsibilities as proficiently as men .. great efforts 

    1. Shivangi Singh

       Thanks for the appreciation, Manisha 🙂

  2. Nabila Habib

    good write! 😉

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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