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Although the causes and challenges of single mother hard in Nigeria have been explored a bit, research on single motherhood in Jos North is surprisingly birth histories to explore single motherhood over the life course of women in Kabong and Apata Districts. We find out that in both locations, a substantial number of women experience one part single motherhood before the age of 45. Women are far more likely to become single mothers following a divorce or death of their spouse rather than as a consequence of pre-marital birth.




Globally, most families are undergoing transition from two-parent families to one-parent families (Laundau and Griffiths, 2007). This widespread phenomenon depicts a structural malfunctioning in the society which calls for corrective measures if social enhancement is to be achieved, the consequences of single mother families have been given huge attention in many of the developed countries such as United States of America and the United Kingdom (Biblarz and Gottainer, 2000: Kahn L et al, 2004). Approximately 12million children in the United States under the age of 18 now live with only one parent, with approximately 95% of these children living with single mother families (Bilarz and Gottainer, 2000).  In the United Kingdom (U.K), mothers constitute over 90% of primary careers (single-parent,wikipedia,8 June 2011). In Malaysia, based on the Malaysian Home and Population Census in 2010 carried out by the statistics department, a total of 831,860 women were widowed, divorced or permanently separated with heavy responsibilities on their shoulders. Similar patterns have been found in sub-Saharan African Countries. This is evident in the Demographic and health Surveys (DHS) data in some Sub-Saharan African Countries on Children’s living arrangement. The proportion of Children living in a mother only family differs depending on countries. For example, Nigeria (10.1%), Uganda (16.9%), (Tanzania 17.3%) and Zambia (17.8%) have the lowest percentages of children staying with mother only and higher percentages are found in South Africa (34.4%) Namibia (27.3%) and Zimbabwe (26.3%) (Dlamini, 2006) However, this has changed with the ticking of the clock, in countries with a high Muslim population such as Nigeria, out of wedlock pregnancy is taboo and pregnant adolescents are forced into marriage by their parents. However, in Southern Africa, AIDS related death and premarital child bearing may explain the high proportion of children living in a single mother family (Moyo and Kawewe, 2009). Jos North plateau state is not immune to this phenomenon and there is little effort towards investigating the causes and challenges of single parenting among women, despite the high rate of crises that has claimed several lives of men and women, rendering women to be widows, men to be widowers and children orphaned, the main concern generally, is that single motherhood seems to be associated with poverty and negative outcomes for children (Kalil et al., 2001). This widespread phenomenon depicts a structural malfunctioning in the society which calls for corrective measures if social enhancements is to be ascertained, The rise in single mother families is occurring within a climate of increased deprivation, which supports the feminization of poverty thesis in the West (Moyo and Kawewe, 2009) and yet there are no comparable public social services to support these families and their children (Swaziland Single mothers Association, SWAMSO, 2010). Studies have revealed that children from single mother families  are more likely to have  poor health status, be malnourished, drop out of school, have poor life attainment and also are more likely to be single mothers or parents (Mclanahan and Percheski, 2008; Kalil et al., 2001). A single mother family is one where a woman who has had at least one child is living alone without a partner (Gonzalez, 2005). Unmarried mothers who live with their parents or other relatives face fewer economic problems than mothers who live alone (Ellwood and Jencks, 2002).

The likelihood of women becoming single mothers is affected by social, cultural, religious and economic factors with a potential to further influence fertility and partnership decisions (Gonzalez, 2005). Thus single motherhood generally emerges through demographic and social antecedents that occur in the societies such as divorce and premarital childbearing voluntarily. One important source of single motherhoods is when a woman chooses rationally not to get married but still want to have children either by adoption or insemination (Mannis, 1999). There is no doubt that  single motherhood is high in Jos North and a better understanding of the factors  associated with single mothers need to be investigated. This research aims to examine the causes and challenges of single motherhood families and to explore the possible interventions necessary to reduce the growing trend of poor single mother families in Jos North.

A single mother is “an unmarried woman aged between 18 and 55 years living on her own with her dependent children younger than 18” (Gordeev 2008: 105). In simple terms a single mother family is where a woman who has at least one dependent child is living alone without  a partner. However, the unifying factor in this definition is the absence of a father figure or husband and the presence of children in dire need of a shoulder to lean on, a hand to guide, and someone to depend on financially, economically and emotionally.


The health and well being of women and children is a key focus of the United Nations millennium development goals (MDGs) as well as the reduction of HIV/AIDS by 2015 ( WHO, 2008) among others. Although literatures have identified  single motherhood is fast becoming a regular family type, studies have shown that such families are associated with negative impacts not only on the parent and children  but  also on the society as a whole(Kalil et al., 2001),some researchers hypothesize that the phenomenon is the possible cause  for increased in children mortality, poor educational attainment, poor health, and delinquent behaviours compared to children of married mothers (Biblartz and Goittainer, 2000; Florshien et al 1998; Painter and Levine 2000). On the other hand, single mothers experience burden of poverty, gender discrimination, unemployment, stigmatization and poor living conditions compared to women living with their husbands (Buvinic and Gupta, 1997; Curtist, 2001; Kalil et al., 2001). This is because single mothers are financially constrained, socially ostracized and more affected by poverty than married mothers (Mclanahan and Sandfeur, 1994).

There is pressure on these women to provide for themselves and their offspring with their little income, most times without any support from relatives or the government. As a result, their children are more malnourished, less likely to complete school, more likely to turn criminals. Further worsening the situation is that most single mothers are not educated, thus their probability of getting gainful employment is greatly affected. Single motherhood also leads to the deterioration of neither normative values nor systems. It is therefore topical that a research on the cause and challenges of single motherhood is carried out to try to expose the possible factors undermining the problem in Jos North Local Government. The outcomes are likely to expose many other unforseen factors that are wreaking havoc on the institutions of marriage.


This study is aimed to identify the causes and challenges of single mothers in Jos North Local Government


  1. To identify the causes of single motherhood in Jos North Local Government Council.
  2. To determine the challenges of single motherhood in Jos North Local Government Council.
  3. To investigate the impact of single motherhood in Jos North Local Government Council.


This research when completed can answer some of the following questions:

  1. What are the primary causes of being a single mother in Jos North Local Government?
  2. What are the various challenges of single motherhood in Jos North Local Government council?
  3. What is the impact of single motherhood in Jos North Local Government Council?


This research study will be conducted in Jos North Local Government Council of Plateau State Nigeria; it was created in 1991 under the leadership of the former military head of state General Babangida Ibrahim, which covers a land area of about 291 km (112sqm). Jos north has about 23 districts, with a population  of  about 429,300 at 2006 census conducted in Nigeria, with its headquarter in the city centre of Jos. In particular this research intends to identify the causes, challenges and impacts of single motherhood within Jos North Locality and possible recommendations be made to address the problem being faced by single mothers. All respondents and literatures collected will be base on the recent happenings in the various districts of the council between the years 2015 to 2016.


This research is aimed at contributing to the limited work on single motherhood in Jos North, specifically, it examines the broad range of factors that have been suggested to cause single motherhood and the various challenges they face in Nigeria particularly Jos North, because it will  provides  better setting for exploring single motherhood in Jos North for several reasons:

Firstly, some recent studies have observed and increase in the number of premarital childbearing, divorce, and adult mortality during the past couple of years in the Local Government (Samp Russel 2010), also HIV/AIDS have been the recent cause of death in the Council causing single motherhood among many women.

Secondly, previous studies of single mothers have focused on a singular analysis which is poverty among single mothers, but this research is important because the findings of this study may provide a better insight on the subject matter which other researcher have neglected. Also, the use of multivariate analyses to investigate single motherhood in Jos North environment will allows us to gain some empirical insights into the processes surrounding the single motherhood in this Council.

Thirdly, despite the rapidly increasing number of single mother families, studies suggested that they are characterized mainly by poverty, and negative chid outcome (Kalil et al., 2001; Bibliaz and Gottainer, 2004). Jos North has witnessed huge economic crises, especially between 2001 to 2014 which translates to high food prices, poor living conditions and increased in high mortality (Bose, 2007) as a result parent lack economic ability to take care of their children, hence children are adversely affected in many ways, poor health, malnourishment, dropping out from school, crime involvement and drugs (Ellwood and Jencks, 2002 McLanahan and Sandfeur, 1994). Understanding the factors associated with single mother families may be the first step in developing programmes that can be used to address the challenges facing these women and their children.

Finally, this study will add to the body of growing knowledge on single motherhood in Nigeria and Jos North Council in particular, it will also provide a platform for further research on the same or similar topic; it will help to identify the significant causes and challenges of single motherhood which can be compared to the western worlds. In addition, because of the consequences attached with single mother hood, this study will then recommend policies, programme and interventions to the government, ministries of women affairs and organizations so that channels be created to help  reduce poverty and negative childhood outcome in single mother families when completed


There are shades of opinion on who a single mother is. Accordingly, there emerged strands of single mothers:

  1. Voluntary single mother: This is a situation whereby a woman deliberately becomes a single mother to biological or adopted child, or through artificial inseminations or simply by intercourse. (Single parent, wikipedia, 8 June 2011).
  2. Single mother having a child or children unintentionally, and daily caring for them without the help of another person, especially the father(s) of the child(ren) .The child(ren) lives with her full time as her primary custodian( answers, 8 June2011)
  3. It has been observed that women, though married and are living with their husbands, virtually shoulder the responsibilities of the family or union including sole breadwinnership, deserve the name single mothers (The Nigerian voice, 8 June 2011).
  4. One may be a single not all of the way. in this case, she has joint legal or non legal custody of the child(ren) with the father(s) of the child(ren), who may be paying or contributing (regularly or less) some sort of support, visiting from time to time, agreeing to get the child(ren) for weekends ors holidays, and in general, having reliable and safe interest in the child(ren), but still largely remaining an ‘absentee’  father on an account of spatially living apart ( All the single mums the Nigerian Voice June 8 2011) .

In general Single Motherhood is defined as all women aged 18-50, that are divorced, widowed, never married, who have at least one dependent child under the age of 18 and are not living with a partner, the unifying factor in this definition is the absence of a father figure or husband and the presence of children in dire need of a shoulder to lean on, a hand to guide, and someone to depend on financially, economically and emotionally.



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