Uhuru fears for surge in single parent families

President Uhuru Kenyatta making his Madaraka Day speech. 

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday presided over the country’s 59th Madaraka Day celebrations at the revamped Uhuru Gardens, his last national event as he winds his second and final term in office.

As expected, being his last national holiday address, the president’s speech was long and one of the points he made was the issue of single parents in the country.

According to the President, the number of single parents rose from 25 percent in 2009 to 38 percent in 2019.

He said that if the trend is not checked, it risks destroying the fundamental character of Kenya and reap untold harm to the most vulnerable and precious members of the society - the children.

“Equally important to highlight is the threat to our traditional values and the family as the basic unit of our society. The evolving face of the Kenyan family is characterized in the 2019 national census where families headed by single parents rose from 25.1 percent in 2009 to 38.2percent in 2019,” he said.

“If unchecked, this trend shall destroy the fundamental character of Kenya and reap untold harm onto our most vulnerable and precious members of society, our children.”

The president appealed to the community and religious leaders to step up and ensure that the Kenyan family remains the strong and respected institution that it has historically been.

Research findings

According to a 2012 Pan-African study by two Canadian sociologists, Kenya has one of the highest numbers of children born out of wedlock on the continent.

The survey found that a Kenyan woman has a 59.5 percent chance of being a single mother by the age of 45 either through pre-marital birth or dissolution of a union.

Also, the findings established that about 30 percent of women in Kenya are giving birth before they are married.

Further, the 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (2014 KDHS) shows that the national teenage pregnancy rate was at 18 percent, and about 15 percent of all adolescent women had given birth.

The Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey of 2015/16 reported that 32.4 percent of households in the country are headed by females, showing that there is a great number of women raising blended families.

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