Monday, August 10, 2009

Unwed moms and single moms

Today we took the very fast train from Seoul to Busan. There we had a great meeting with the Korean Hambumo Network regarding their work with "little moms" or unwed moms. In Korea, they make a distinction between single moms, who were married when they had children but are now single and unwed moms, who were not married when they had children. While there is significant discrimination against single moms it tends to be less then that directed toward unwed moms. In the late 1990s with the rapid increase in divorce, there was a corresponding rapid increase in single moms. Many of these women have worked hard to improve the government support for single parents, and are currently working to guarantee the right to health care, housing and vocational education for all single parents. This would clearly benefit unwed moms.

The Hambumo Network also has developed a training program to train volunteer counselors to work with unwed moms via an internet cafe, to teach about sex education and relationships and out of wedlock parenting, in high schools. They established an in internet community for unwed moms that currently has over 50 members. They are committed to continuing to both advocate for better government support and protection for all single parents, and to work specifically with unwed moms, to support them in the ways that they can.

The meeting was followed by another great workshop featuring Dr. Cheryl Mitchell. Dr. Mitchell gave several workshops when she was here with us last year. As one of the founders of the Addison Parent Child Center in Vermont, a former Deputy Secretary of the Agency of Human Services in Vermont, and currently an adjunct professor at the University of Vermont, Dr. Mitchell has a wealth of experience and knowledge to share about how comprehensive programs in the US support moms ( see earlier blogs about our study tour in Vermont). She can share knowledge about the kinds of programs needed, program design, funding sources, and a more general public policy analysis. The workshop was well received, with lots of questions being asked and a lively exchange.

At the end of a great day, we took the fast train home to Seoul.

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