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Activists join Felix Foundation to seek new life for widows


Felix King Foundation ambassadors Desmond Elliot and Mercy Aigbe, Founder, Felix King at the first annual African Widows Summit in Benin City, Edo State recently

Felix King Foundation ambassadors Desmond Elliot and Mercy Aigbe, Founder, Felix King at the first annual African Widows Summit in Benin City, Edo State recently

Human rights activists and political leaders have called for a concerted action to end all cultural and behavioural practices militating against the full exercise of the rights and privileges of widows in Nigeria.

This was their position at the African Widows’ Summit recently organised by Felix King Foundation in commemoration of International Widows Day in Edo State, Nigeria. In attendance were Founder, Women Arise Initiative, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, International Finance and Business Leader, Dr. Mohammed Aliu Momoh and Co-convener, Bring Back Our Girls campaign, Haija Aisha Yusuf.

Presenting a paper titled, Confronting Inequity to Promote Change, Okei-Odumakin called on every Nigerian to see the challenge that widows and other vulnerable women face in the society as one that should be confronted by every individual to enable the positive synthesis that will build communities for the better.

She blamed the continued scourge of maltreatment of widows on the insensitivity of those not directly involved and the silence of those who found themselves as victims, saying it is a debt society owes itself as a mutually functional growing unit to protect the vulnerable ones among them.

“Society must come together to fight this scourge. There are those who keep silent apparently in the feeling that it does not directly affect them. But I must state that the people who keep quiet in the face of such a situation are either cowards or traitors,” she stated.

Citing a number of cases of deprivation in which her organization has intervened in the past, Okei-Odumakin advised women to be brave and speak out when their rights are trampled upon, especially as is prevalent, upon the departure of their husbands, assuring their voices would be heard by those ready and willing to offer help and support.

Also speaking on the paper, ‘Girl Child Education: Panacea for Potential Growth,’ Yusuf blamed the scourge of maltreatment of widows and the vulnerable in our society on ignorance, saying that spreading education to the poor and the vulnerable will go a long way in preparing them for the task of effectively fighting for their rights if and when the situation arises.

She lamented that Nigerian women are being denied rights of inheritance and in other cases even basic education for their children. She, however, advised men to invest in the education of their girl children while also ensuring that they hold their wives in confidence and empower them to make certain critical decisions that will play critical roles in the future survival when they are no more.

Founder, Felix King Foundation, Mr. Felix King Eiremiokhae, lamented the plight of widows in the society and said his foundation was established, not to solve all the myriad problems, but to blaze the trail and hopefully inspire others to embrace the movement that will alter the cultural practices that lead to the disempowerment and maltreatment of widows.

“I am of the strong belief that when we deny the poor and the vulnerable their own human dignity and capacity for freedom and choice, it becomes self-denial. It becomes a denial of both our collective and individual dignity at all levels of society. This is so because the Divine order of social evolution presupposes that we protect one another, speak for one another and advance the cause of one another and when we, for one reason or the other, deny the weak and vulnerable among us what is their due, we are disrupting that Divine order,” he said

Eiremiokhae, who had earlier presented a Private Members’ Bill to the Edo State House of Assembly in his quest to give legislative teeth to the abolishment of ill-treatments against widows, called on all peoples of all nationalities and callings to embrace his call by not only supporting widows but also take it upon themselves as duty to fight for them whenever they are being maltreated.

Also lending her voice to the campaign, wife of the Governor of Edo State, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, commended the Foundation for the timely initiative and promised the support of her pet project, the Edo Women for Agriculture (EWA) towards empowering widows by encouraging them to adopt those of them who wish to embrace agriculture.

Among other dignitaries that attended the event are the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Justin Okonoboh, Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon (Mrs.) Elizabeth Ativie, members of the academia and political leaders of Edo State.

Nollywood stars were also there to show support such as, Desmond Elliot and Mercy Aigbe who are both ambassadors of the Foundation.

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