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Single so what: Policy must actively support female independence

Single women are all around, but they are invisibilised. They include women who didn’t get married and those who are no longer married, they are occasionally financially independent but more often they are vulnerable to varying degrees, disempowered by our social environment. The recently released UN global report on women shows that a significant number of households in India are headed by single mothers. These tend to be disproportionately poorer than dual-parent households.

Whether they are unmarried, divorced, separated or widowed, many women find it difficult to access social security, land rights, resources and policy attention. Unless they are anchored to a family, a household, it is a struggle to get entitlements, whether it is a ration card or a housing allocation. Government policy has to proactively keep this fact in mind (like the MGNREGA does), and officials at every level have to see women as independent, autonomous citizens.

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