Editorial: Boosting supermoms

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Sunday, May 11, 2014


FOR many contemporary women, the term “working mom” is redundant. Given better education and higher costs of living, many women spend the greater part of their day as workers, entrepreneurs, and professionals.

The economy pressures women even as it opens opportunities for them in the workplace. However, social expectations have hardly eased on the roles and responsibilities women are supposed to play at home.

The triple burden of being wife, mother and worker frames Mother’s Day, celebrated yesterday, with deeper economic and social relevance beyond sentiment.

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Going solo

According to a study by the Department of Health and the University of the Philippines-National Institute for Health, single parents number 13.9 million, representing 14 to 15 percent of the estimated 94 million Filipinos.

Some 10 to 12 million women raise a child or children without any financial support from their biological father, estimates online sources.

A child born out of wedlock is considered illegitimate and under the parental authority of the mother, reported smartparenting.com.ph. Under Article 176 of the Family Code of the Philippines, parental authority gives a single mother the right and duty to raise a child until he or she reaches the age of 18. The right cannot be renounced or transferred except by law, according to Article 210 of the Family Code.

As part of the marginalized sector, single parents also have their rights protected by Republic Act (RA) 8972, or The Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000. Benefits include seven days of parental leave and a comprehensive package of psychosocial services from government agencies.

In 2012, the Department of Social Welfare and Development recommended amendments to make the decade-old law more responsive to single parents and their families, reported the gov.ph website.

Once RA 8972 is amended, solo parents don’t have to wait for a year after abandonment by their spouse before they can be issued an identification card as single parents. By shortening the waiting time to six months, solo parents can avail themselves of benefits earlier.

Circle of support

For single mothers, the loss of financial support from a spouse makes raising their children more daunting. Legal counsel can help single mothers seek child support from their former partner. Articles 193 to 203 of the Family Code address child support,
reported smartparenting.com.ph.

To make ends meet, a single mother should also count on support from her employer. A Rappler article published on May 12, 2013 cited the importance of knowing one’s rights as a single parent and the policy of one’s company for mothers going solo.

Many employers say differently but discriminate in practice against solo parents, particularly mothers raising their children on their own. When children get sick or the household helper resigns, single mothers are expected to take frequent or extended leaves from work. Solo moms are also blamed for raising the health insurance premiums of a company.

Because a single mother must juggle her multiple roles as breadwinner and nurturer, it is crucial for her to choose an office that balances her needs with the demand for productivity: allows nursing breaks in the office, provides room or space for nursing, permits children to be in the office during weekends or emergencies, and allows one to work at home.

Working mothers also suffer additional discrimination from employers and colleagues saddled with ageism. In the company grapevine, a woman’s accomplishments or potentials are doubted or speculated about when she was abandoned by a spouse, is supporting dependent minors, and older than 35 years. Can she be relied on? Will family take precedence over work? How sound are her morals or ability to live within her means?

Despite laws and political correctness, working moms, particularly solo mothers, need a circle of family, friends, colleagues, and community to sustain them as they meet headlong society’s high expectations for “supermoms.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 12, 2014.

Opinion

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