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Abstract

Life can be challenging for single mothers unable to secure employment. However, little is known about the barriers that hinder single mothers’ re-entry into the workforce, more so in the context of urban areas in developing countries, the landscape of which differs from that of rural areas and developed countries. To address this gap, a study was conducted to investigate the barriers that single mothers encounter when re-entering the workforce in urban areas in developing countries, using a survey of 373 single mothers in urban Sarawak, Malaysia, as a case. The findings suggest that single mothers in urban areas considered family reasons as the main barrier to workforce re-entry, followed by work-life balance, personal, and workplace reasons, which remained true regardless of whether single mothers intend or do not intend to return to the workforce. Implications for theory and practice, limitations, and future research directions conclude the article.

Note on the Author

Weng Marc Lim is Adjunct Professor of Swinburne Business School at Swinburne University of Technology Australia and Professor and Head of School of Business at Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak. His research interests include single mothers and women empowerment. He holds a doctorate, an honors and a bachelors from Monash University and several post-doctorate certificates from Cornell University and Harvard University. He regularly presents at international conferences and publishes in A-star/A-ranked journals. Contact: lim@wengmarc.com / marclim@swin.edu.au / wlim@swinburne.edu.my.

Ida Fatimawati Adi Badiozaman is Director of Center for Education Research and Head of School of Design and Arts at Swinburne University of Technology’s international branch campus in Malaysia. Her research interests include single mothers and women empowerment. She holds a doctorate from Massey University, a master from Victoria University of Wellington, and a bachelor from University of Malaya. She regularly presents at international conferences and publishes in premier journals. Contact: ifaBadiozaman@swinburne.edu.my.

Mung Ling Voon is Discipline Leader and Senior Lecturer in School of Business at Swinburne University of Technology’s international branch campus in Malaysia. Her research interests include single mothers and women empowerment. She holds a doctorate and a bachelor from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak and a master from University of Leicester. She regularly presents at international conferences and publishes in top tier journals. Contact: mvoon@swinburne.edu.my.

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