15m widows in abject poverty, group says
To mark the International Widows Day, international Women Society (IWS) has said 15 million widows in Nigeria are living in abject poverty. Speaking at an event to mark the day at IWS skills acquisition centre, Lekki, IWS President, Nkoli Ogbolu tasked government to make legislation that will protect and empower the widows.
She said the day is marked globally due to a collective spirit for empowerment of women and ending abuse of children. With the theme, ‘Rejuvenate widows’ respect,’ she said it is important to be part of a society that is compassionate and looks after its own stressing that the number of widows is on the increase.
“We also empower widows; we have people, cooperate organisations and individuals who also understand the course and contribute to it and we respect that. We have empowered almost a thousand widows. In our alumni skill centre, we have 1500 widows doing their small businesses.
“The Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) boosts the economy. It means people can achieve their dreams, they do not need to beg for food and as such reduces many societal ills,” she added.
The President said that they are faced with the challenges of manpower and funding when carrying out voluntary work adding that the government is not doing something right.
She tasked the government to address the needs of the people which are basically food, shelter light, and water, urged the media to partner with them so as to make their voices heard.
Also, the chairman of the occasion and a former Minister of Health, Dr. Abimbola Oguneke said it is a great thing that International Women Society is celebrating widow’s day.
“Unfortunately, in our society, widows are like almost outcasts, particularly in some cultural settings. Nigeria must do all it can to come to the aid of the widows. We ask for the girl child right, women’s right because when women become widows they do not stop being women. Widow’s right must also be upheld and women’s right cannot be complete unless the widow’s rights are upheld,” he said.
Oguneke said there must be legislation that must protect the right of the widows such that when the husband dies brothers and cousins of the husband will not turn them into an outcast stating that widows are our sisters and mothers.
He continued: “We must not neglect their right and everything must be done to protect the right. I am calling on all governments, the national and state assemblies to come up with laws that will protect the right of widows.”