Obstacle course for low-income mums trying to break kids out of poverty

Low-income mothers want to work to support their children, but are caught in a bind between poor jobs with no flexibility, and caring for children with zero income.

Two years ago, we embarked on our current research to answer this question: Why are low-income mothers, who want to secure and remain in paid work, not able to work or hold onto their jobs?

A group of us at Aware, the gender equality advocacy group, interviewed almost 50 low-income mothers who were either previously or presently active in the labour force, and who wanted to be or remain employed. Prompted by their families' limited financial circumstances, many prematurely ended their education and joined the workforce at a relatively young age. As they started forming families, they reduced the time spent at work or stopped working altogether because they lacked the necessary support to work and care for their children. They may be single mothers, or have husbands who are incarcerated or unable to support the children for some reason.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2018, with the headline 'Obstacle course for low-income mums trying to break kids out of poverty'. Print Edition | Subscribe