Inspire Inclusion of Young Single Mothers Through Financial Empowerment

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

Inspire Inclusion of Young Single Mothers Through Financial Empowerment

As we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) and the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements and potential of women worldwide, the United Nations has designated this year’s theme as ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress’ with a focus on addressing economic disempowerment. The 2024 campaign theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion’ and SamuelFields Consulting Group, a financial wellness consultancy, wants to address the “quiet discrimination” that many young single mothers face in our society. Many see them as deviants from the “ideal standard of the family unit”, with little hope or opportunities for growth and economic success.

During their online show, Likkle Byte Ideas, the SFCG team featured three dynamic women, who entered motherhood at an early age and faced significant social, economic and emotional challenges while raising their children. The panelists shared their respective financial experiences and life lessons that they learned about motherhood, while “on the job.”  Kevina Francis and Samara Emanuel, members of the Team Antigua Island Girls are known for their heroism in rowing across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. They were joined by Jermaine Edwards, a community activist, who recently spearheaded a petition to rename American Road, in honor of the Caribbean’s first female Police Commissioner, Ms. Delano Christopher.

The panelists shared common challenges that they faced and lifestyle adjustments they had to make, in order to provide for their children. Lack of financial education, low paying jobs and limited access to affordable childcare and social services, were cited as the main barriers facing these single mothers as they seek economic advancement.

“No one dreams of being a single mother, or says ‘when I grow up I want to be a single mother.’ It is difficult, especially in our cash-strapped financial environment. Whether you receive child support or not, most single mothers live on tight budgets and lack the financial literacy tools to make sound decisions and plan for the future,” said Megan Samuel-Fields, CEO of SFCG.

Many young women also endure the pressure and public stigma that comes with teenage motherhood. Societal odds often paint a negative picture of how life will be. Children are expected to grow up economically disadvantaged, and there is a perception that young single mothers barely scrape by. But with hard work and determination the panelists on Likkle Byte Ideas, unveiled a beautiful portrait of what can be achieved, through hard work, determination and a lot of support from family and friends.

“I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves by trying to balance it all. It’s NEVER going to be perfectly balanced – the sooner you recognize this, the sooner you can relieve some of the pressure you put on yourself. I think it’s really important for every mother to budget and save and find ways to supplement their income. It was very critical to me to educate myself, so that I could pursue better economic opportunities for my son and myself.”  Jermaine Edwards, Community Advocate.

“I grew up in my family business, so I grasped a little financial knowledge. But based on my experience as a young mother, I think financial literacy should be mandatory in our schools. They should begin teaching children about budgeting and saving in elementary school. But it is also about continuous learning. I recently signed up for some finance courses with the Harvard CORe Program, to learn how to better run my business.” Kevinia Francis, International Rower, Fitness Instructor and Entrepreneur.

“As a teenager, I didn’t have a care in the world. My mother gave me money and I spent money and that was the extent of my financial literacy. But as the reality of being a mother and the responsibilities kicked in, I had to figure it out. The old school way of saving using your box hand, was one way that helped me to put away money for a rainy day and provide for my sons.” Samara Emanuel, International Rower, Yacht Captain.

The panelists cited the need for free financial counseling to assist young, single mothers achieve financial stability. The SFCG team agrees that through financial education there will be greater inclusion, especially among young single mothers. “When women feel included, there’s a greater sense of belonging, relevance and financial empowerment. It isn’t about how much money you have. It’s about starting a path to financial literacy and wellness, feeling confident about your finances and being ready for unplanned events in life. With financial empowerment comes the ability to tackle challenging financial times with self-assurance, by having access to resources to help them reach their goals.

To watch the LIKKLE BYTE IDEAS SHOW: https://www.youtube.com/live/EIZQGpAxtlE?si=oiWeVonqBE8NapA4

Photos:

Samara Emmanuel

Kevinia Francis

Jermaine Edwards

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