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Working mothers in developing countries like Guyana, who are still struggling financially, are facing a multitude of challenges that threaten not only their own well-being but also the future of their children and the nation as a whole. According to the World bank, poverty in Guyana, measured using the upper-middle income poverty line (US$5.50 per day in 2011 PPP) has dropped from close to 61 percent in 2006 to around 48 percent in 20191, but was still among the highest in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. Close to half of Guyana’s population is struggling financially.
One of the most pressing issues is the lack of adequate and affordable housing, which leads many of these mothers to become squatters and live in unsanitary conditions. This not only puts their health at risk but also makes it difficult for them to provide a clean, safe and stable environment for their children.
Furthermore, these mothers often struggle to provide their children with a quality education due to the substandard schools and limited resources available to them. The highly touted cash grant to all children breaks down to $220 per day for the school year, a one sided bus fare. The breakfast program, of which the minister so often speaks is available to 13,000 students, that’s a mere 7% of the student population. It’s something, but not much. This, coupled with the fact that many of them are victims of domestic violence, creates an environment in which their children are at a disadvantage before they even start their education journey.
Another issue that these mothers face is the rising cost of food. The rising food costs limits families from providing healthy meals daily for their children, resulting in poor nutrition, stunted growth, lack of concentration and underperformance in school. Many working mothers have jobs such as market vending or security work that keep them away from their homes during critical hours, leaving their children unsupervised and exposed to sexual predators, teenage pregnancy, hopelessness, depression and criminal activity.
The situation for these mothers is dire, and it is important that the government of Guyana take action to provide meaningful support. With a rapidly expanding oil budget, it is crucial that the nation’s mothers are not left behind. Mothers are the foundation of the nation, and a nation built on a weak foundation will soon collapse. It is time for the government of Guyana to invest in mothers and their children in a meaningful way, to ensure that they have the resources and support they need to build a brighter future.