November 27, 2001
Malaysian government to form council
for single mothers
A story published today by the Star (Malaysia) reports that the Malaysian government is
planning to set up a single mothers council which will coordinate with existing single
mothers groups in the country in order to protect the welfare single mothers.
Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said that through the
council, the ministry could draw up effective programs towards helping 900,000 women who
had become single mothers.
She said in the 2000 Statistics issued by the Statistics Department, 895,000 households
in Malaysia are headed by women.
Shahrizat said various measures have already been taken to help single mothers in the
county including coordinating support services like counseling and creating opportunities
to secure jobs.
Entrepreneurial programs are also being arranged to identify business opportunities in
which single mothers could venture in, she added.
Sunday, November 25, 2001
British columnist says government should stop picking on single
A newspaper article written by columnist India Knight for The Sunday Times
(London) talks about how the government has painted a unsavory picture on single people.
The text of her article appears below:
India Knight writes that single men are sometimes portrayed as micro-Norman Bateses,
still living at home with their mommy, who lovingly irons their pants every morning. While
single women are seen as increasingly desperate neurotics, pouring over self-help books,
tormented by their biological clocks.
In her experience, single men more often than not live in glamorous lofts or huge
apartments, and single women run around in sexy clothes having an enormous laugh. She
doesnt see Nicole Kidman weeping hot tears into her pillow every night, falling
asleep clutching her copy of The Rules; nor does she see any of the single women she knows
running around like headless chickens: theyre too busy having a good time.
UK 2002, the latest installment of the governments annual portrait of the nation,
says that one in 10 women and one in six men are likely to remain single all their lives,
coinciding with the decline of marriage and the "traditional family".
Knight would love someone to explain to her what this
deeply irritating phrase means. She believes that the truth is that single people are, in the main, perfectly happy to be so, and
that the cartoon neurotics are a (boringly vocal and omnipresent) minority. Being single
often gets confused with being friendless, and therefore lonely, which would indeed be
But being single she feels and having friends and racing about being self-indulgent is
heaven, surely: whats not to like? You can do as you please, dress as you please,
eat as you please, go wherever the fancy takes you. You dont have to suffer your
spouses boring friends or colleagues an important consideration at this
party-ridden time of year.
Knight adds that if youre female, you dont have to go into agonies of leg
waxing, eyebrow plucking and the rest if you dont feel like it. You dont have
to explain to anyone that having a standing order at the florist is not, in fact, a waste
of money. You dont have to put up with snoring, or duvet theft, or the tiresome
consequences of one pint too many down at the pub. You can wallow in your own PMT without
having to answer irritating questions about the time of the month. There is no need for
celibacy either, and variety, as they say, is the spice of life.
Knight still asserts that she doesnt see a problem in singlehood. Children, she
supposes, if one really yearned for them, are eminently borrowable: just get someone to
lend to you some for an afternoon and send them back when youre bored. Which leads
her to the question of lie-ins: single people can have as many as they like.
Single people should be proud, not furtive and ashamed.
Apart from anything else, singlehood shows a commendable refusal to compromise, as so
many married people do, by shacking up out of desperation with the only person who offers
(very common in women over 35, this, and men too, she says). They get married because some
not-very-thrilling character asks and nobody else has. They have babies, bring them up,
and realize that the spouse is hideous and they are stuck, since being single at 45 is
going to be even harder than being single at 35.
This disastrous kind of situation she believes can be avoided by understanding that
being single is not an illness or a condition: it is simply another way of living out
ones life. Since one out of 10 of women one out of six if youre a man
is headed that way, its about time single people start living their life.
Friday, November 23, 2001
Russia experiencing rise in out of wedlock children
A story released today by Itar-Tass reports that according to the Russian State
Statistics Committee, every third Russian child is born out of wedlock, whereas nine years
ago, every seventh child was born out of wedlock.
In 1992, the number of children born out of wedlock was around 272,000 against 400,000
out of wedlock children born in 2000, statistics reports said.
Russia is no exception as regards a general world tendency of women rejecting bonds of
marriage. The average age at which Russian women decide to give birth to a child is 20- 24
years old (93 children per 1,000 women born in this age group), and 24-29 years old (65
children per 1,000 women).
The Caucasian region remains in the lead in birth rates. In Ingushetia, 19.9 births
account for 1,000 population against 17.1 births in Dagestan and 8.7 births in Moscow. The
worst birth rate has been reported in the Tula region where 1,000 population account for
6.9 births, which is the sign that the population of the Tula region are getting old.
Wednesday, November 21, 2001
Nova Scotias population decreasing
A story published today by the Halifax Herald Limited reports that Nova Scotia's
population is going to get older and smaller in the next 25 years.
People are having fewer children and waiting until later in life to have them, says the
report by the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
By 2026, seniors will outnumber children almost two to one and the province's
population will be in decline, says Family Matters, a compilation of statistics from
"We're going to have smaller families," said Brigitte Neumann, the council's
"People are going to have fewer family networks to call on. It's a very important
issue to look at how people will be able to look after themselves."
The province's fertility rate dropped to 1.45 children per woman in 1997, the report
shows. It takes 2.1 children per woman to maintain a steady population rate.
The report predicts Nova Scotia will have 3,700 more deaths than births in 2026. Births
outnumbered deaths by 1,859 in 1999 - a big drop from 13,247 in 1961.
The report shows Nova Scotia has the highest percentage of single mothers in the
country. Single moms head about 20.4 per cent of families with children.
Newfoundland has the lowest percentage of single mothers - 15.5 percent.
Nova Scotia had 39,680 single-parent families in 1996, all but 6,040 of those headed by
About 35 percent of babies born in the province in 1997 were born to unmarried moms, up
from seven percent in 1961.
The report shows 57.5 percent of Nova Scotia children living in poverty come from
The province is going to have to take a serious look at how to meet the needs of its
children and seniors, Ms. Neumann said.
Both the aging population and the changing state of families have a huge effect on
women, since women live longer and tend to head single families, she said.
Australias High Court to guide state IVF rules
A story released today by the Australian Associated Press
reports that Victorian health authorities will defer changes to free up IVF treatment for
single women and lesbians until the result of a High Court appeal is handed down.
The decision to delay the more open policy was made by the Infertility Treatment
Authority yesterday after opponents of greater access voiced their concerns.
The High Court appeal seeks to overturn a landmark Federal Court decision last year
which ruled that Australias Victoria province could not deny IVF to an unmarried
Infertility Treatment Authority chairman Professor Jock Findlay said yesterday it would
be wisest to await the court's final decision or "we could do a whole lot of work in
terms of developing these guidelines - and find we're back where we started".
The authority's proposed guidelines would have allowed women, including single women
and lesbians, who were unable to become pregnant because they could not have
"normal" heterosexual sex, to use IVF treatment programs.
Meanwhile the state opposition said it intended to introduce a private member's bill
into state parliament this week to ensure infertility treatment programs were not
available to women unless they had a genuine physical infertility.