Single parents co-living

Posted by Flux on 

23 October 2022

What’s trending?
We are beginning to see single parents living together in commune-like arrangements. Raising kids as a single parent comes with many challenges, some of which could be alleviated through co-living with others in the same position. A french startup Commune has introduced two such communal spaces in Paris. In addition to housing, Commune also provides shared services and facilities to the residents – a fully equipped kitchen-dining room, a multipurpose playroom, a laundry room and garden or rooftop terrace. We are likely to see more of such developments going forward as the number of single parents continues to be significant around the world. Globally, according to the United Nations, there are 101.3 million single mothers.

Why is it important?
In South Africa, we have a large proportion of our population that are single mothers. In many instances, these mothers are struggling to make ends meet and their children are taken care of by their grandmothers whilst the mothers work. According to research conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the South African Race Relations Institute (SARRI), more than 40% of South African mothers are single parents.  In 2020, a Gallup poll revealed Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest percentage of single mothers worldwide, at 32%. According to StatsSA, in 2018 many young children (46%) lived with only their biological mother, and 2% lived with their biological father only. One of the ways a communal living arrangement could benefit these mums would be the sharing of childcare. They could also take advantage of economies of scale when purchasing groceries and other consumer products. 

What can businesses do about it?
Aspiring entrepreneurs could begin to offer co-living residential offerings similar to Commune but within a South African context. “Companies need to acknowledge that single parents exist,” said Tanzina Vega, a solo parent, journalist, and host of The Takeaway public radio show on WNYC. “A lot of organisations still assume that all parents are in couples, so there’s an assumption that your partner will be there at home if you can’t be. Companies have to acknowledge there are unique issues that single parents will run into.”  Employers could offer support to these parents in the form of benefits such as childcare, a more inclusive culture and flexibility. 

By Faeeza Khan

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Image credit: Rawpixel 

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