Single mums by choice (SMC) or solo mums refers to women who choose to become parents alone, i.e. without a partner. While this is not a new phenomenon, a growing number of women are opting for this lifestyle. Melissa Cameron, a fertility specialist at Melbourne IVF, says, “We[‘ve] certainly had big increases steadily since about 2015 or so. More recently [at her clinic] we’re noticing about a 20 per cent increase in single women each year. I see a lot of patients that just aren’t able to find the right person to have a baby with — that is by far a more common reason for going down the single parenthood pathway.” Even China, where traditional families are encouraged, is seeing an increase in women pushing for reproductive autonomy.
Why is it important?
Empowering single mothers to choose parenthood acknowledges their personal autonomy, gender equality, and the diverse ways in which love and nurturing can shape a child’s future. There’s growing acceptance that women should be able to fulfil their maternal instincts without feeling compelled to marry or enter into a relationship with an unsatisfactory partner. In many instances this leads to future couple problems, potentially harming the children. There’s also growing acceptance of a move away from the nuclear definition of a family towards a more diverse one – although there is pushback in rightwing communities. Additionally, in many parts of the world, we face the problem of ageing populations and not enough babies. This could be one way to counteract this problem.
What can businesses do?
These women represent a group of people with unique needs that businesses providing products or services should take note of. They provide an opportunity for the health and insurance sectors in particular, but even children’s book authors could create stories that involve single mums so as to normalise such relationships. Businesses that employ them should implement policies and practices that create a more inclusive and supportive work environment.This may include the need for flexible hours and daycare facilities. With shortages of talent in many sectors, assisting SMCs could help expand the talent pool and assist with staff retention.
By Faeeza Khan
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