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Raising children is tough, expensive and exhausting but single-parent households have it harder than most nuclear families because only one adult shoulders the major responsibilities at home. In Singapore, 64% of single-parent households are headed by women. However, finding or staying in employment is a crisis for single mothers. A research conducted by Singapore Management University, which interviewed 88 single parents including 77 single mothers, showed that one of the leading causes of unemployment is difficulty in organizing childcare. Single mothers are more likely to face discrimination in workplaces due to the extra commitments of single-handedly raising their children, making it difficult to keep their jobs. This often leads them to choose jobs that allow flexible work schedules or working from home, but support for such jobs are low. If this problem is not addressed, the single mothers will be unable to support their child. Their financial stability would be jeopardized, consequently affecting family stability. Not only will this put them under a lot of pressure, it will also be detrimental to their child’s development and well-being. Heather Sandstrom and Sandra Huerta, experts on early childhood development, say that unemployment of parents may lead to negative academic outcomes of students, such as lower educational level as the family cannot afford higher education.
AWARE helps a range of women, including single mothers. It aims to remove gender barriers through research and advocacy, education, support services and, with regard to single mothers, it mainly focuses on their housing problems. AWARE works closely with single mothers and have identified some of their key challenges, including childcare, financial, housing, and employment difficulties. It is acknowledged that many divorced parents are women who left employment to be a homemaker. AWARE, together with its partner, Daughters of Tomorrow (DoT), advocate for supportive employment opportunities for single parents who have to manage caregiving responsibilities alone. To create more employment opportunities, DoT initiated the Employ To Empower Program to encourage businesses to hire underprivileged women, including single mothers. It encourages employers to be understanding of the women’s situation, so as to facilitate better working environments for them and increase publicity for partnering companies (Figure 4). Although those partner employers are providing flexible jobs for single mothers as far as possible, the flexibility may not be sufficient for some mothers require more time for childcare, especially with infants or children with special needs. Single mothers face the overbearing stress of juggling numerous responsibilities with so little time and, as a result, single mothers are more susceptible to mental illnesses On top of that, more time spent with children would also improve their children’s development greatly AWARE has a public campaign, #asinglelove, that “provide[s] single parents with back-to-work support”. The campaign itself used an appealing video in order to raise social awareness of this employment issue on its website.
Publicity is insufficient for raising awareness of unemployment issue of single mothers among the public. The video only records a single mother telling her story, lacking visual communication that would possibly leave a larger impact on the audience. The public is thus less able to understand how their support can help those single mothers, and single mothers would receive less help as a result. Moreover, the campaign has not used social media platforms to its full potential. This can be improved by including QR codes and posters which can be spread quickly and easily. We want to increase employment opportunities and financial independence for single mothers so more of them can earn a stable income and support their family.
Business Women Network (BWN) is a platform specializing in helping small businesses and entrepreneurs in starting and managing their businesses. They conduct workshops regularly, educating members about all aspects of starting a business, from marketing through social media, to the basics of how to start up a business in Singapore. They cover both realistic and idealistic aspects of starting a business, helping entrepreneurs holistically. Besides workshops, BWN also provides a platform for one to expand their network so as to constantly improve and promote their businesses Single mothers would be able to benefit from similar workshops that teach them how to startup businesses. Having all aspects of starting up a business taught in one place, it is a convenient and efficient way for the single mothers to learn. This would help speed up the learning process and allow the single mothers start up their businesses quickly. On top of that, there are also mentor sessions which allow women to seek help when they are met with problems. The mentorship program is a direct source of professional advice and development for single mothers, providing one-on-one support that addresses their issues directly, enhancing the learning process.
Organizations such as AWARE, with public support, can carry out skills training workshops to train single mothers and equip them with the skills needed to set up a startup company of their own. With the entrepreneurial skills learned during the workshops, it enables them to explore business opportunities of their own interest. BWN uses varying forms of new media to publicize their events. Their poster concretely states the information of the workshop and provides a link for registration, making registration easy for people who are interested. BWN also regularly issues online magazines on the website. These magazines include tips for business start-ups as well as inspiring stories about BWN members who have set up successful businesses. The inspiring stories illustrate the effectiveness of BWN, encouraging women to participate in BWN’s programs. Similar publicity methods can be used in our project, in order to attract single mothers to participate in workshops as well as raise community involvement through showing them how their efforts would make a difference. Learning from BWN, online publicity can be used to advertise the workshops and gather public support. The use of social media as well as videos and other forms of advertising would help single mothers and the community to find this platform easily. To ensure flexible working hours for single mothers, the problem with the lack of self-driven business opportunities must be addressed. Hence, there is a need for workshops that teach single mothers entrepreneurial skills to start their own businesses. Starting their own businesses allows them to work at home with flexible work hours.
On top of that, start-ups online save costs by eradicating the need for an office, giving single mothers the ability to decide on working hours that accommodate their schedule. Just as BWN provides workshops teaching skills required to start up business and mentor sessions for further assistance, similar workshops can be conducted for single mothers via online platforms. The community would be encouraged to contribute their help in different ways, including teaching materials, expertise and their time in teaching the single mothers. There is a lack of self-driven financial opportunities hence the skills taught during the workshops would include essential skills that are needed for one to start up their own business. The workshops would focus largely on technology competency, since the success of home-based businesses would depend on the internet – the most effective method to reach out to prospective customers, with a website as an online profile for the business. Using the internet, publicity for these businesses would not be limited to physical methods (such as brochures and print ads), providing more outreach that would not be possible before the internet, opening up a potential market, thus reaching a broader audience in a shorter time.
Skills such as basic internet usage, setting up a website, setting up and maintaining social media platforms would be taught since they are essential for sustaining a home-based business. Workshops would be conducted via talks or online video lessons. Offering the options of conducting a talk whether it be in person or online would provide greater flexibility for mothers who do not have flexible hours. Online video lectures would make effective use of visuals, enhancing presentation and make materials more accessible, so as to keep students engaged and learn more efficiently. It would include PowerPoint slides, animations, and screen recording to guide mothers when learning hands-on skills. Students rated lectures with PowerPoint slides more highly than those without slides, also giving higher ratings to their course and self-efficacy when their lectures used PowerPoint. Research addressing whether animation aids learners’ understanding has produced positive results. Videos would also be accompanied by notes or a copy of the PowerPoint slides for easy reference and revision, so that information can be better retained. If a lecture covers complex ideas that might cause difficulty in understanding, having notes would also be a useful backup. Online video lectures have many pedagogical benefits. Video lectures are effective in communicating facts or demonstrating procedures, as viewers can review the video repeatedly at their own pace, grasping the content with better understanding, thus facilitating better learning.
The interactive features of modern web-based media players can also promote “active viewing” approaches, so that viewers learn less passively. Shepard and Cooper (1982) and Mayer and Gallini (1990) made the connection between visual clues, the memory process, and the recall of new knowledge. Hence, with the aid of videos, single mothers would be able to learn better. It would also save costs for the organization since administrative costs such as renting locations would not be needed. For instance, University of North Carolina and Highworth Grammar School use Moodle with its video conference features to combat budget cuts and saved more than 50%. This would cut down on the training fees, making access to these workshops affordable for single mothers, thus extending its reach to a larger group of beneficiaries.
If single mothers face difficulties understanding what is being taught, an online Q&A service would be part of the website which allows them to ask questions. Questions regarding starting up a business would also be entertained. Answers will be provided by professionals in the team. This one-to-one consultation would provide better solutions, since the solutions would be tailored to their problems. With Q&A, students would be more responsible for their own learning as well. A study conducted by PubMed Central shows that active learning and student-centred pedagogy improve student attitudes and performance. The study compared final exam performances across 3 years, before and after implementation of active learning. The result was that it led to significant improvement. Since AWARE already has a website dedicated to helping women, it would be ideal if they allow access to online workshops from their website. With the platform they already have, providing training workshops both online and offline would extend their outreach, thus providing holistic solutions to the employment problems these single women face. The workshops effectively enable single mothers to achieve financial stability by equipping single mothers with skills for business start-ups. Moreover, it acknowledges single mothers’ needs for flexibility by focusing on Internet-related skills which are necessary for home-based business. Known for stringent policies, it can be confusing for one to undergo various procedures to start up and register a business in Singapore. The workshops would also include guiding single mothers in going through the tedious process of registration and getting workpasses, ensuring that legal processes go smoothly without any issues. The tedious process would no longer hinder single mothers from setting up their businesses and in turn provide more opportunities for single mothers to be independent financially.
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