Single mothers head 13 million households in India: UN Women report

A report by UN Women released on Tuesday shows that 4.5 percent of households in India are run by single mothers. It also highlighted the issues these households face and offered solutions.

According to the 'Progress of the World's Women 2019-2020' report by United Nations Women, which was released on Tuesday, an estimated 4.5 percent of all Indian households - 13 million - are run by single mothers. 

The report, which throws light on the significant number of lone parent families across the country, also estimated another 32 million families to be living in extended households.

In a global stance, data from 89 countries shows that out of all the lone-parent households, single mothers head over 84 percent of them, translating to 101.3 million.

The report points out that because women and men around the world are delaying marriage, more women are becoming enabled to complete their education, establish themselves in the labour force, and support themselves financially.

Despite the positive change, the poverty rate of single-mother households in India, at 38 percent, is still significantly higher in comparison 22.6 percent for the dual-parent households in the country. One of the major reasons for this, the report says, is that only 26 percent, according to the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) receive an income of their own, making most of them dependent on their spouse or other male members of the family.

The report also offered solutions to combat unstable income in families led by single-mothers such as diverse and non-discriminatory family laws, accessible sexual and reproductive healthcare, guaranteed access to adequate income for women, and prevention and prompt response to domestic violence against women.

Anita Bhatia, the deputy executive director of UN Women said:

“While some progress is evident within the Asia-Pacific region, women and girls continue to be discriminated against and their contributions undervalued. Governments must renew their commitment to gender equality by identifying clear priorities and actions with set timelines and resources, in line with the 2030 agenda and Sustainable Development Goals.” 


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