Background information

  • 2 out of 5 homeless people are women (INSEE, 2013)
  • 8% of women live below the poverty line (INSEE, 2017)
  • 85% of single-parent families are headed by women (INSEE, 2018)
  • The child poverty rate is 20%, which is higher than that of the general population, which is 14%*
  • 1 in 5 children lives below the poverty threshold in France, i.e., nearly 3 million children

Among these vulnerable populations, there are single mothers who sometimes leave the maternity ward without a home to go to. There are 1.7 million single-parent families in France. Single-parent mothers with a child under the age of 3 have a lower employment rate than that of mothers who are part of a couple. Only 44% of mothers with a child under the age of three who live without a partner are in employment, compared to 71% of women who live with a partner*.

Origin of the project

On her return to France, Sister Emmanuelle alerted the public of these social issues and spoke about the heavy suffering in morale that many families are facing across France. Isolation and the weakening of family solidarity and proximity have left many populations “distraught” or “prone to malaise”.

At the end of the 1990s, Asmae decided to get involved in France and launched an in-depth study of existing social needs and systems, in order to identify the type of action that could be rolled out to individuals and families, complementing and linking with public assistance services.

After a long stage of defining the project, financial planning and finding the ideal location, an establishment opened its doors in Bobigny at the end of 2006, to help young mothers in difficulty and their young children, the top victims of poverty.

* UNICEF file : Child poverty in France



date of establishment


beneficiaries of the maternal centre


beneficiaries of the nursery


Maternal centre 

Project start date: 2006

Number of beneficiaries: 19 mothers and 29 children

Admission criteria: mothers between 18 and 25 years old, with 1 to 3 children, one of whom must be under 3 years old, domiciled in the department of Seine Saint-Denis.

Number of places: 19 accommodation units for women with 1 to 3 children


  • Seine Saint-Denis Department Council.

L’Île Aux Enfants nursery 

Project start date: 2006

Number of beneficiaries: 29 children

Admission criteria: Must be domiciled at the maternal centre or have been referred by the municipality of Bobigny

Number of places: 29



  • CAF (Caisse d’allocations familiales);
  • Seine Saint-Denis Department Council;
  • Town of Bobigny.

«It has been a place where I was able to settle down, truly, where I was able to continue my studies peacefully,[…] and where I could still live. It was a place where they knew how to listen to me, and make me move forward.»

Mrs J, born in France, who entered at age 19 and stayed at La Chrysalide for more than two years.


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