Navigating through motherhood : Case study of young single mother´s resilience during pregnancy and motherhood in Arusha Region, Tanzania

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Title: Navigating through motherhood : Case study of young single mother´s resilience during pregnancy and motherhood in Arusha Region, Tanzania
Author: Ikonen, Anne-Mari
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Politiikan ja talouden tutkimuksen laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political and Economic Studies
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för politik och ekonomi
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2019
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Kehitysmaatutkimus
Development Studies
Abstract: This study assesses the key factors affecting the resilience of young single mothers in Arusha region, Tanzania. The average age of childbearing in Tanzania remains low. Many socioeconomic difficulties such as poverty, lack of education and sexual- and reproductive services have an impact why many Tanzanian girls give birth during adolescence. Young single mothers often face many challenges in coping with pregnancy and motherhood due to the discrimination they face. This research is based on 22 semi-structured interviews that were conducted with young single mothers, who had given birth between 15 and 20 years old in Arusha region, Tanzania. The data was collected during one month visit to Meru at the end of 2017. The interviews were conducted in two locations. Half of the interviews were conducted in the villages of south-east of Meru and half in two women´s shelters in Arusha town. The interviews were supported by participant observation and informal conversations. The data was transcribed and analysed through qualitative content analysis. This study focuses on assessing the main factors that affect the resilience of young mothers during pregnancy and motherhood. Resilience is assessed through reproductive resilience framework. The meaning of resources (capitals) in the lives of single mothers was also assessed. Moreover, the social discourses regarding gender, sexuality and motherhood were examined in order to gain understanding of how they impact the experience of young single mothers. The findings show that social support operates as a protective factor in building resilience for the young single mothers. However, the findings show that young single mothers struggle to receive support during pregnancy. This is mainly because the negative social discourses regarding girl’s sexuality and pregnancy outside wedlock in Tanzania. The results show that young mothers face strong discrimination during pregnancy, both from their families, friends and community, which operated as a constraining factor for resilience. The discrimination had profound impact on of the resilience of the young mothers during pregnancy, as it often disrupted family relations and sometimes led to separation of the girl from her family. The shame of unmarried pregnancy diminished the support networks the young mothers had. Furthermore, the findings show that young mothers are able to receive more support during motherhood from their families and communities. Young mothers would no longer receive discrimination or verbal abuse in their communities. The findings show that the role of motherhood in the community is highly respect and therefore the young mothers were accepted in the community as any mothers. Motherhood itself operated as both protective and constraining factor for resilience. Becoming mother decreased the shame of unmarried pregnancy and raised the young mothers in highly valued positions of mothers in their societies. Some young mothers had managed to renegotiate their place in the family after the pregnancy experience and were again accepted in their families. Regardless of the financial challenges that young motherhood brought to the informants the mothers who had managed to keep their social support relations were showing positive adjustment to motherhood. Most young mothers embraced their roles as mothers, because it brought them value and made them acceptable members in their communities after the negative pregnancy experiences.
Subject: Tanzania
single mothers
adolescent motherhood
social support
social discourses

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