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Women who work because they have no choice

READ MORE: Women who work because they have no choice
The times are all about change. WWAY is taking a look at the many changes women have gone through in the last century. From fighting for the right to vote, to going to work in the factories during world war two, to the feminist revolution in the 60's and 70's, the role of women has been constantly evolving. Last week, we took a look at some local moms who choose to stay home with their kids, and a few moms who work because they want to. This week, WWAY is looking at women who work because they have no choice. A full night's sleep is a luxury Shanique Sewer just can't afford right now. She explained, "My typical day, now that I'm working on my masters, I'm probably going to sleep about 12:30 or 1:00 a.m., then I'm up about 5:15 - 5:20, then we're out of here around 6:00 - 6:15." She's one of 10 million single moms in this country. She's also a full time teacher, and a student, working towards her masters in education. Nine month old Alyssa's father doesn't have a job, so Shanique has to rely on her own salary to support herself and her daughter. While that may sound tough, Shanique tries not to worry about realities she can't change. She said, "At the end of the day, all of the responsibility for her still lies on me, if I sit here and complain, it's just going to stress me out a lot more and if I'm stressed I'm not going to be productive at work, nor am I going to be well for her." In Brunswick County, it's a similar struggle for Sherry Mendez. Her husband of 8 years injured himself at his job as a concrete foreman. He had to have surgery on his back, and has been out of work for months. Sherry explained, "When he got hurt, if I had the choice I would have stayed home, but I was definitely forced to. We didn't really have a choice, somebody had to work and it had to be me because he wasn't able" Ramon Mendez is able to work now, but despite his efforts, he hasn't been able to find a job. As a result, Sherry works from 11:00 at night until 7:00 in the morning, allowing her to still see her daughters when they come home from school. She's also in school, training for a better paying career. Sherry said, "I feel exhausted almost all them time. I feel like the Energizer Bunny with a Wal-Mart battery. That's what I feel like. I just feel like I'm trying to go and go and go and go, and there is just not enough of me to go" It's probably not what women had in mind during the women's lib movement; women playing the role of bread winner, working because they have to. The women we talked to would like to be able to spend more time with their children, but without a second income, they don't have that option. Another phenomenon that is evolving these days, is grandparents stepping in as primary caregivers to their grandchildren. According to the 2000 U.S. census, there were close to 2 1/2 million households with grandparents raising their grandchildren. Dessie Scott began helping her daughter care for her children, when her daughter became seriously ill and couldn't work. "It was something I really enjoyed doing, but financially, it became kind of harder, but you still help out as often as you can, and do the best you can, because I love my two grandchildren very much.” Her daughter wasn't married, so she didn't have any help or income coming in from a spouse. So Dessie actually took a part time job to help with the expenses. But the women say hardships, like having to go back to work, have come with some silver linings. Dessie said, "It's given me a little since of accomplishment and feeling good about myself - than to constantly be in an area where you have no control over your finances.” Shanique Sewer noted, “When you look back after all the struggles, you'd be more proud of you not giving up, and just pushing forth, rather than making excuses and wondering why I'm not getting help when everybody else is getting assistance." With each generation in the American evolution, there are ups and downs for women in their changing roles in the workplace and the household. The next generation of women will likely learn lessons from their mothers, and make some changes of their own, when it's their turn.

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