Poverty, education and trends driving teenage pregnancy

Poor women with limited access to education and often living in rural areas are more likely to get pregnant as early as 15 years of age.

Teenage pregnancy declines as the level of education increases according to the 2022 Kenya Demographic & Health Survey by the Kenya Bureau of Statistics. About 38 percent of women with no are likely to get pregnant as teenagers as compared to 5 percent for women with more than secondary education.

And when it comes to poverty levels, only seven percent of wealthy girls get pregnant in their teen age as compared to 21 percent among poor women.

When it comes to geographical location, Samburu County tops the list with a staggering 50 percent of women aged 15-19, who have experienced pregnancy. Following closely behind, West Pokot County records a substantial 36 percent while Marsabit, Narok, and Meru counties show percentages of 29 percent, 28 percent, and 24 percent respectively.

On the other end of the spectrum, Nyeri and Nyandarua counties demonstrate the lowest percentages with only 5 percent of young women having ever been pregnant. Kirinyaga and Murang’a counties closely follow with 7 percent each, while Vihiga and Nairobi City counties both show an 8 percent rate.

These figures tend to shed light on the significant regional disparities within Kenya and the varying levels of challenges faced by young women in different parts of the country from literacy levels to customs.

In recent years, Kenya has not faced such a pressing social issues that has sent ripples across the country, as Teenage pregnancies.

The consequences of these pregnancies are far-reaching, affecting not only the lives of young mothers but also shaping the rise of single mothers.

The survey’s statistics reveal that in 2022 nearly 15 percent of teenage girls become mothers before they reach the age of 19.

These young naive children trying to navigate the journey of self-discovery, but instead find themselves in the uncharted territories of parenthood, forever altering their trajectory. This alarming figure has been attributed to various factors, including inadequate access to comprehensive sex education, limited availability of contraceptives, and cultural norms that stigmatize discussions about reproductive health among others.

Teenage pregnancies often trigger domino effects that often lead to the rise of single parenting. Young girls who become pregnant often face significant challenges in continuing their education, leading to limited employment opportunities and financial instability.

Many teenage mothers are forced to see their dreams go up in flames, as the demands of parenthood take up priority. The once harmonious school melodies now become tender lullabies of nurturing.

Read also: Kenya’s devastating plague of single mothers

Softlife from older men or women

This cycle creates an environment where single-parent households become more prevalent with the burden of parenting falling primarily on the young mothers. It is evidently seen with rising levels of “Kevos” and “Brayos” who vanish after getting young ladies pregnant and decide to move to places which are worlds apart to start afresh.

The trend is also being fueled by emerging ideas of cross-generational relationships. Where most Kenyans had sugar mummies and daddies, my generation has domesticated them to ‘wababas’ and ‘wamamas’.

This phenomena is not new since time immemorial, young people, often bereft of resources under their parents patronage often seek material comfort and comparable softlife from older men and women who are themselves pursuing the fountain of youth away from boring and loveless marriages.

But increasingly as the economy suffers and opportunities to earn a living narrow, a growing youthful population is seeing ‘wababas’ and ‘wamamas’ as an economic activity. Both young males and females have ejected from a hardworking life opting for easy ways to get the `soft` life.

The youth in the face of financial strains are opting for these doyens for survival and financial benefits which leads to a ‘soft’ life.

This ‘soft’ life articulated as luxurious, high flying trips to exotic destination glamourized by social media, where money grows on trees with no struggles or effort. While it works out for a few in the celebrity world, most young girls end up fodder in a cruel lopsided transactional relations paid back by sexual favours.

The ‘wababas’ mostly married some with adult children, the age of the ‘nyumba ndogo’ females they roam with have no intentions to marry them creating a growing wave of single parents.

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