Letter: Mothers shunned

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The Independent Culture
Sir: David Willets' speech "Stop the pointless nagging of single parents" (Podium, 23 November) fails to acknowledge the many women who have successfully raised a family, single-handed. Who have fought for a good education whilst raising children on benefits, and are desperately seeking employment.

I have, over the past decade, acquired the qualifications necessary to enter university and gained an honours degree in social policy. I am currently studying for a masters degree, and will graduate in June 2000.

During these many years of study I have met other women who, like myself, have studied to fit themselves for a good job, with little or no success. I have applied for many job vacancies throughout my years of study. I rarely get interviews and have never had a job offer.

Encouraging single mothers to actively seek employment when their children reach a certain age does not result in employment. Employers appear to be reluctant to take on employees who have a gap in their employment record. This discriminates against all mothers.

My sons, aged 19 and 16, feel that education is of little benefit in the employment stakes, as study offers no guarantee of a job. Thus, they are reluctant to commit to years of study only to delay claiming unemployment benefit. I am not the role model I had hoped to be.

EDWINA MITCHELL

Gosport, Hampshire

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