The Governor of Edo state, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has decried practices that exclude widows from socioeconomic activities in some societies.
Obaseki said this on the occasion of the International Widows’ Day, celebrated by the United Nations on June 23, each year, lamented that “practices that stigmatise and exclude widows are obnoxious and fuel for poverty.”
He added that “at a time world leaders are designing policies that engender inclusive growth, practices that discriminate against widows are anti-growth and development.”
He noted that “widows, like any other class of people, should have equal access to land and empowerment programmes to uplift them to any social or economic heights to which, they aspire.”
The governor assured that “the Edo State government will continue to mainstream all classes of people in her developmental programmes and policies, to give everyone equal opportunity and fair chance to attain greatness.”
He saluted the United Nations Women for advancing the affairs of widows and urged world leaders to pay more than the usual attention to their rights and entitlements.
According to the United Nations, “in many countries, widowhood is stigmatised and seen as a source of shame. Widows are thought to be cursed in some cultures and are even associated with witchcraft. Such misconceptions can lead to widows being ostracised, abused and worse.
“The children of widows are often affected, both emotionally and economically. Widowed mothers, now supporting their families alone, are forced to withdraw children from school and to rely on their labour. Moreover, the daughters of widows may suffer multiple deprivations, increasing their vulnerability to abuse.”
The global body notes that “The International Widows Day is an opportunity for action towards achieving full rights and recognition for widows – too long invisible, uncounted and ignored.”
It added that “A dearth of reliable hard data remains one of the major obstacles to developing the policies and programmes to address the poverty, violence and discrimination suffered by widows,” and called for more research and statistics disaggregated by marital status, sex and age, in order to help reveal the incidence of widow abuse and illustrate the situation of widows.”