Seemingly, the majority of children in Uganda are mostly raised by a female as the primary parent or guardian. The latest national household survey report, revealed that the majority, 45.8 percent, of persons aged 15 years and above have never married. Add the 6.1 percent who are divorced or separated and the percentage goes higher to 52 percent.
Among the 6.4 percent categorized as “married polygamous” are likely mothers raising their children pretty much in the absence of their spouses, depending on the nature of their polygamous marriages. And then of course there are the 4.8 percent in the category widow/widower. The survey, matter of fact, also revealed that 31.2 percent of households in Uganda are female headed. Interestingly, according to the survey, the highest concentration of female headed households is in Karamoja – 64.7 percent of households in Karamoja are female headed.
And yet, through the ‘single mother’ label, this significant section of mothers – raising children out of wedlock and or singly, even though married – are generally perceived in derogatory terms, even by they themselves. Unlike a few extraordinary emancipated mothers, such as Dr. Stella Nyanzi, it is highly likely that when many Ugandan mothers use the category ‘single mother’ to refer to self, they have internalized and have accepted the fallacy of victimhood that is erroneously associated with ‘single motherhood’.
Many others, who are not ‘single mothers’, also likely often use the label without appreciating “the implications that this label might have on mothers and how it might be seen as offensive,” as Sydney Witherspoon reflected in comment to my blog post: “Stop using offensive label “single mother”. In other parts of the world, it may be that the use of the label ‘single mother’ is rightly from a perspective of awe and respect for the accomplished and empowered mothers, such as Dr. Nyanzi. But in Uganda, more often than not, it is used in the opposite perspective that devalues. This is unacceptable.
Featured photo @ Dr. Stella Nyanzi as she shared it on Facebook