June 12, 2024

Uplifting single mothers in the Netherlands: Meet Single SuperMom

In the Netherlands, nearly one in ten children is born into a single-parent family. Single SuperMom, the largest network of single mothers in the country, is at the forefront of addressing the unique challenges these families face.

The Alliance for Gender Equality in Europe supports Single SuperMom’s work through its economic opportunities fund, as it uplifts and empowers single mothers who are at the highest risk of living in poverty and social exclusion with a more inclusive and sustainable path to the labour market.

A stark reality for single mothers

Single mothers belong to one of the poorest and most socially isolated group in the Netherlands. Approximately half of all single mothers live in poverty or struggle to make ends meet. This financial instability is compounded by a labour market that often fails to consider their care-giving responsibilities, offering inflexible jobs with low wages and unstable contracts. Furthermore, nearly 20% of these mothers rely on social assistance to survive, with many others classified as the working poor, barely earning enough to provide for their children. These mothers disproportionally come from migrant communities and/or have language difficulties.

Tax scandal’s devastating impact

A recent scandal, known as the “toeslagenaffaire,” highlighted systemic issues when thousands of parents were wrongfully accused of childcare benefits fraud by discriminatory algorithms. This algorithm disproportionately flagged those with dual nationality or low income as a risk. The system had also been set up with stringent bureaucratic rules so that even the smallest administrative error in filling out forms was flagged as fraud. Multiple courts have ruled that the strategies used by the Dutch government were discriminatory, especially against low-income single mothers from a migrant background who were forced to repay tens of thousands of euros and faced bankruptcies, job losses, homelessness, and even

Single SuperMom on a mission

Single SuperMom’s mission is to strengthen the socio-economic position and well-being of single mothers across the Netherlands with a 9-week program to help mothers set and achieve personal goals while building motivation and planning skills.

Image by Single SuperMom.

In not only equips mothers with skills and connections needed for employment and entrepreneurship, but also works to involve fathers to address gender norms that affect family dynamics.

By advocating for a grassroots perspective in policymaking and raising awareness through public demonstrations, it addresses systemic oppression.

Two women from Single SuperMom organisation sitting inside a UN conference room.
At the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. Photo by Isra Lee.

Need for more inclusive approaches

In a country like the Netherlands, poverty among single mothers is not an individual issue but a societal choice. Policies and societal structures often do not take into account the unique challenges faced by single mothers, such as expensive childcare and the dual burden of work and home care tasks. That is why Single SuperMom strongly advocates for a shift in societal and governmental approaches to be inclusive and supportive of single mothers, including employment, housing, childcare, education, health and tax. This would ensure they have the opportunities to thrive, and not just survive.

A group of women holding pink posters for Single SuperMom
Image by Single SuperMom.