We must begin changing our culture of silence in widowhood by eliminating every act of violence for women in widowhood, as world leaders joins the United Nations to pursue sustainable development goals.
This is the number one action of Almanah Hope Foundation, especially with the UN Women emphasis on gender equality.
The key focus of our celebration in international widows day 2019 is advocating an end to all widowhood rite that violates women's dignity.
It is obvious that one of the key agenda, nations, especially third world countries should key into their 2020s agenda is bridging the gap of gender indexes.
It is estimated that half of the world population are women with over 258.5 millions of them being widows.
According to African poverty report 1 in 10 African women from age 15 are widows.
The percentage of these widows in our Nation we will all agree may be more, considering our culture and religion of polygamy, child and forced marriage to much older men and the various insurgencies and crises that is happening daily killing mostly our men, the husbands.
The ripple effect of widowhood to our economic and national development is such that we must begin to pay close attention as we work on eliminating them.
It is more efficient to use prevention while addressing gender equality, and Widows are windows to women agenda that we must open for an equitable cause.
Widows are among the most disadvantaged and poorest in the society. There is an urgent need to look into providing social and economic security for them considering their rising population and its effect on the overall population.
The residual effect of our culture in widowhood is such that requires all of us to begin to pay attention.
It is no longer acceptable to rely solely on NGOs skill acquisitions and various programs as a measure of widowhood empowerment.
To holistically address these widowhood issues and create a universal empowerment scheme, we must utilise preventive actions.
The emphasis on rehabilitation approach, though effective should not cloud our vision on the most efficient approach that comes from prevention.
In prevention as a form of empowerment, it involves all provision that can be given to one for her social, physical security and emotional wellness and this starts first with policies.
Today the biggest issues of widowhood are stigmatization and exploitation which our cultural practices and rites indirectly encourage.
Until we as a culture, government, religion, NGOs, Organisation, Schools, Media take up the responsibility of nipping it in the bud, the seedlings that germinate into these issues by creating policies and schemes at all our levels such as;
Outlawing all widow rites that violates women dignity; Providing access to business loan; Student loan for her kids; Housing scheme for shelter; Health care facilities.
Also pension / insurance scheme and review of probate law among others.
If the government as an administrator, using all parastatals such as women affairs, health, education and media, especially the ministry of women affairs through the commissioners creates department of prevention, prosecution and rehabilitation all widows issues using local government headquarters and traditional rulers in implementation; then widows will have access to information and facilities that will empower them to soar and contribute to nation building.
The reason for widows' continual victimization and exploitation is because there are no facilities of preventing a next action; as such new abusers emerge, as old ones get away.
If there are policies, and government provides functional departments accessible in our various communities for the locals, a lot of issues and challenges widows face will be addressed.
Addressing this involves a synergistic action of our religious organisations and government in collaboration with the media.
Imagine if every micro society including Churches and NGOs should begin micro banking packages, loan facilities for widows through existing ones for the locals with zero and/or minimal interest rate and processes.
A vocational training institute as a core department in the ministry of women with the coloration of the Local government headquarters.
Imagine where the Media on their own part embark on a mass campaign to help to inform, enlighten and educate the public on all the policies and facilities.
If these steps are made a reality, it will create a universal empowerment which will go a long way in changing the narrative of widowhood in our society.
In celebrating the international widows day we at Almanah Hope Foundation in our bid to curb the downward transmission of this violence against women in widowhood, is saying end every widowhood rites that violates women dignity with a bill to enforce it.
When and where done, there should be adequate information dissemination through billboards at schools, religious places, ministries, community centres, local government headquarters, all women affairs office building, secretariats, healthcare centres in English and local languages on all violence with complaints centres.
To help make sure our women in our hinterland are informed, the schools need to become more active in transmitting the information to our youths who invariably will empower their mother with the power of such knowledge.
An empowerment of widows is a growth not just to national economy but a great index to achieving sustainable development goals.
A showroom of God's mercy!!
We each have a change power, use your little where you are.