Let us confront prevalence of single mothers

Serious attention must also be given to increasing number of young people engaging in unsafe sex. [iStockphoto]

The rising number of single mother-led families is probably the disaster we may now want to talk about, due to far-reaching ramifications.

Retired President Uhuru Kenyatta sounded the alarm in 2019. While marking the 59th Madaraka Day celebrations, he noted with concern the huge leap in the number of single mothers from 25.1 per cent in 2009 to 38.2 in 2019.

It is four years since the 2019 census and by the time we get to 2029, we could be dealing with a percentage of single-parent-led families past the 50 per cent mark. This arises due to a multiple of issues that should be addressed. A good number of cases of single motherhood are a result of premarital sex that leads to unplanned pregnancies.

However, in a society with high literacy levels, this should never be the case. Any adult engaging in premarital sex must know that sex leads to pregnancy and take precautions. There are a number of options including age-old condoms.

And given that women bear the greatest burden of raising those children, they must take the greatest caution. Contraceptive services are available in public hospitals but I believe will be more available through CHPs intervention.

The greatest culprits of this phenomenon of single motherhood are obviously men who either go MIA or have turned their partners into objects of abuse to the point of preferring life alone. I dare say the converse can also be true.

Serious attention must also be given to increasing number of young people engaging in unsafe sex. A sizable percentage ends up in pregnancy and consequently, early marriages that do not survive or early single motherhood that reduce prospects of marriage.

Statistics also show there are women who out of their desire for independence, actually prefer to raise their children alone. They deliberately seek out men not to start a family. Even in cases where men want to be involved in raising their children, they are relegated to being sperm donors.

Key society actors must come to address the problem of the failing family unit. Article 45 of the Constitution states that; (1) The family is the natural and fundamental unit of society and the necessary basis of social order and shall enjoy the recognition and protection of the State.

However, that is as far as the law can go. Curriculum developers and religious leaders must consciously hammer the importance of the family as a basic unity of society. We must find ways of restoring the natural order of a family and more importantly ways of resolving conflicts that break up families.

Research has proven that disruption of the family unit confers a great deal of vulnerability to children. Where possible, a child should be raised by both parents.