Child­free, happy: Women who

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - MAIN STORY -

With a yearly pop­u­la­tion growth rate of 2.6%, Kenya’s pop­u­la­tion in 2015 was es­ti­mated by the World Bank to stand at 47.24 mil­lion. On av­er­age, the World Bank says, ev­ery woman in the coun­try gives birth to 4.26 chil­dren. It there­fore comes as a sur­prise that there is a small but grow­ing co­terie of women (and men) who, ir­re­spec­tive of the fact they have no med­i­cal com­pli­ca­tions that would pre­vent them from hav­ing chil­dren, have de­cided that kids are not in the cards for them. Not to­day, not ever! The po­lit­i­cally cor­rect term of such a lifestyle is “child-free”, not to be con­flated with “child­less.”

Ms Tarurî Gatere, a Nairobi-based life-coach and well­ness in­struc­tor, is one such woman who has no de­sire to give life to or raise chil­dren of her own. “For as long as I can re­mem­ber, I have al­ways known that I did not want to have chil­dren of my own,” the 33 year-old says. “I kept my de­ci­sion un­der wraps for a long time though, be­cause I was not sure how peo­ple would re­act when they heard of my de­ci­sion. How­ever, about 4 years ago, I de­cided to ‘come out’ and speak out about my de­ci­sion,” she re­veals.

When she first told her par­ents and sib­lings that she was de­ter­mined to lead a child-free life, no­body be­lieved her. She nar­rates, “They thought that I was just jok­ing and the feel­ing would pass. How­ever, as the years rolled on and I re­mained res­o­lute, they came to ac­cept and sup­port my de­ci­sion un­con­di­tion­ally.”

Ms Gatere ac­knowl­edges that our so­ci­ety has cer­tain ex­pec­ta­tions of a woman her age. How­ever, she in­sists that she has al­ways been a re­bel­lious spirit who seeks to ques­tion so­cial norms. “Al­though not hav­ing kids is a pri­vate de­ci­sion, I have cho­sen to speak of my de­ci­sion on sev­eral pub­lic plat­forms in or­der to prove that we do not have to stick to the paths that so­ci­ety ex­pects us to fol­low,” says Ms Gatere.

She ex­plains that her courage to speak out about her de­ci­sion has opened her eyes to the fact that she is not the only Kenyan woman in that school of thought. Scores of women and men, she re­veals, have reached out to her ex­press­ing sim­i­lar views. She says, “Know­ing that I am help­ing oth­ers find courage in their own di­ver­gent voices has al­ways en­cour­aged me to speak my truth.”

While stat­ing that Amer­i­can me­dia icon Oprah Win­frey has been her role model since child­hood, Gatere says that be­ing child-free al­lows ones to de­vote their time, re­sources and ef­forts into find­ing and ful­fill­ing their life-pur­pose. Oprah Win­frey has re­peat­edly stated she does not be­lieve that she would have made a great mother be­cause she would likely have ne­glected her chil­dren in or­der to fo­cus on her ca­reer.

When it comes to un­so­licited ad­vice from friends, fam­ily and even foes on­line, Gatere ad­mits that she has heard it all. She says, “Peo­ple al­ways tell me about how I would make a great mum, how my life will find mean­ing when I have chil­dren, how no one will take care of me while I am old and how I will re­gret my de­ci­sion when I’m past my child-bear­ing age. They say that I’m self­ish and some even ac­cuse me of be­ing a fem­i­nist, as if that’s some­thing to be ashamed about.”

While she says that peo­ple within her in­ner cir­cle are com­fort­able with her de­ci­sion, the great­est grief that she gets comes from vir­u­lent trolls on so­cial me­dia. “Peo­ple come on­line and in­sult me say­ing that I am pro­mis­cu­ous and that I have prob­a­bly pro­cured many abor­tions and that is why I can­not have chil­dren. I have since learned not to be fazed by the neg­a­tive com­ments be­cause my de­ci­sion only af­fects me, I am not hurt­ing any­one else. If some­one who does not even know me gets

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