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28 March 2011

Mum's the word

Mum's the word

Cards will be bought and flowers delivered. Mothers Day weekend is fast approaching. We find out about the origins of the day, initiatives to celebrate it, and work with mothers at the sharper end of life. 

Held on the fourth Sunday of Lent, centuries ago people returned to their home or 'mother' church on Mothering Sunday. Domestic servants, often daughters, would visit their families with the tradition of giving flowers coming from daughters picking wild flowers as they travelled home. 

But for some mothers, life isn't so rosy. This weekend, churches will be holding special Mothers Day services thanking mums for all they do. Many will also be raising funds and awareness of women for whom celebrating their roles as mothers is a far flung concept.
Supported by Alliance member Tearfund, Beyond the Streets is a UK organisation helping those in prostitution find genuine alternatives through its 50 or so affiliate projects. Often working with women who are mothers, the projects provide kids clubs with space for women to get support as well as other services such as a mother and baby safe house. Josephine Knowles, training manager, says that although Mothers Day can be a difficult day, project's support women as much as they can:

"Many projects will try and support women on this day...one year we sent cards to mothers and I know of a project who will give each woman a flower. We recognise that mothers in this situation have it tough".

Often through lack of opportunity, poverty and homelessness, for many women prostitution is a matter of survival. "Those with kids have real guilt and pressure… but actually many of these women are incredibly resourceful and I've met women who will go to the ends of the earth to protect their children," adds Josephine.

Internationally, although women make up half of the world population they account for over 70 per cent of people living in extreme poverty. Women work two thirds of the world's working hours but earn only one tenth of the world's income. 

International child development and advocacy organisation Compassion are also supporting mothers in difficulty. Using their Child Survival and Child Sponsorship Programmes, this Alliance member wants women to be able to take control of their lives and benefit their families in the long term.

There are often no safety nets when income dries up for women in poverty in the developing world. In Ghana's Volta region, widows are not allowed to work for a year after their husband's death. This meant Lucy, who has six children, had no way of supporting her family. Providing her with help to persuade her community that she could work, sponsoring one of her children and giving her a loan to build a business, help from Compassion now means she can now earn for her children. "I have learnt other things through this loan," she says. "No matter how small my sales for the week, I am sure I save something."

Alliance member World Vision are also holding a Mothers Day initiative; see more on their Share a Smile campaign.

Service resources: organisations The Baptist Union, Mothers Union and Children's Society have produced great Mothering Sunday service ideas - for more see their websites