Is Being a Mother Difficult in Chile?

“poverty has a woman’s face”

Photo by Keira Burton in Pexels

By Carmen Gloria Arroyo (El Mostrador)

HAVANA TIMES – Mother’s Day filled us recently with emotions, with memories; I think there is no doubt that the sweetest, most important affection and the one that most impacts us as people is the bond we have with our mothers. Therefore, it is the right time to reflect on what so many mothers must face to move their children forward in our country. Many live in a rather disadvantageous situation.

Motherhood is a path that, more often than not, is a hard one. In particular, I am referring to the fact that in Chile the number of single-parent households is 13%, and of those, 85% are headed by a woman raising her children alone. There have been writings from various authors who have dedicated many pages to this subject from colonial times onwards, but the reality has not changed much. The story of single women and their children without fathers remains a constant in our cultural and statistical analyses.

A study by the Catholic University conducted before the pandemic proclaimed that it could be said that poverty in Chile has a woman’s face. This was the conclusion from a series of indicators that, in the wake of the pandemic, not only remained in force, but apparently became worse. One of them, arguably one of the most important, is the number of women raising their children alone, and the huge number of fathers who do not comply with the obligation to pay child support.

To this must be added other antecedents, such as that women have greater difficulty entering the labor force, and if they do, according to the INE (2020) statistical report, they are paid 20% less than men. As if that isn’t bad enough, women receive lower pensions when they retire, not only because of their lower salaries, but also because of the large gaps in social security contributions due to maternity leaves.

Society expects – or expected – women to be the ones primarily responsible for raising their children, as if fathers were not also part of the process. These stereotypes, which became part of the culture, make it even more difficult to reconcile any paid activity with domestic work and childcare.

Is it hard to be a mom in this country? Super hard. And I wonder why men, even though many of them are devoted to their own mothers, forget that the mothers of their children fulfill the same role. This is a huge mystery, and a debt owed to women.

I hope that, at some point, all this data that we have analyzed will finally become a thing of the past. Only when this history is behind us will we be able to truly wish all our mothers a happy day.

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