A quick look at the numbers makes it clear that two-parents homes are, on average, at an economic advantage, earning $72 more each month than single mothers and $153 more than grandmothers. Children with both parents at home are also more likely than their peers to have a parent with at least a high-school education. In the case of children being raised by their grandmothers, the highest level of education achieved was the sixth grade. In addition to making it more difficult to find formal employment, these care-givers are less likely to be able to help their grandchildren with homework assignments later in life. Nevertheless—in our experience, parents and grandparents with minimal education are often some of the most motivated to ensure that their children will be guaranteed the education they were unable to access.
In the case of basic appliances, single mothers were actually more likely to own a refrigerator and a washing machine. In a future blog post, we’ll explore some of the ways that basic appliances make an impact on families’ lives. Two-parent homes may have less access to these types of appliances because they are also the type of family less likely to live with other extended family members, such as grandparents and brothers and sisters. Single parent homes are more likely to do so as a means to pool resources, thus reducing or eliminating the cost of renting a home and allowing them to share electricity, water, and other expenses. These arrangements are common in El Salvador, both out of economic necessity and as part of a cultural tradition where children rarely live on their own before getting married or forming a family.
One of the grandmothers who has stepped in to raise her grandchildren in the case of an absentee mother and father is Noemí López. Her three-year-old grand-daughter Nicole is currently enrolled with a scholarship, and Noemí already helped put two older grandchildren through the center. She also has two teenage children of her own to take care of. As a member of the Women’s Empowerment Program over the past two years with Programa Velasco, Noemí began to take even greater initiative to provide a better life for her family, learning new skills to improve her small business selling beauty products while continuing to work three days a week cleaning and ironing for wealthier homes. She earns $160 from this work, and supplements her income with $50-$60 a month from her business. Perhaps even more importantly, she also learned to value her work, her time, and herself as a woman—something that can be hard to do with so many important demands and responsibilities in her life.
Programa Velasco began its work with scholarships, but made the leap into women’s empowerment programming because of what you can see from the data here: women are often at an economic disadvantage when it comes to raising a family. Rather than simply offer a scholarship, we work to capitalize on the commitment these women show to their families and help invest in them and their initiatives so that they can work towards creating a better life for themselves and for their children.
Thank you for making this work possible!