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With 258 million widows worldwide, widows are heroes — Phumzile

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director

By Funmi Ajumobi

With a global theme, “Developing Resources and Policy to Empower Widows”, Nigeria joined the world to mark International Widows Day yesterday, 23rd June, 2018.

According to Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, widows are heroes and everyone must see them like that because they work hard to keep families, communities, and societies together following the loss of their spouses, adding that as societies,  we owe it to the widows of the world for the respect, visibility and unique support they need.

Phumzile  said it was time to  consider the vital role widows play in our society. The ways gender inequality impacts their ability to thrive on their own, and the specific recognition and attention that they need from all of us. According to Phumzile, of the 258 million widows worldwide, nearly one in ten live in extremely poor households and where social and legal protection systems discriminate against women, widowed women’s lifetime earnings and savings are restricted. The result,she said,   is that women are less likely than men to receive a pension in old age, and even in countries with good pension coverage, women are significantly more likely to suffer poverty in old age than men.

This is a clarion call to the government to develop resources and policy to empower widows and allow them to have access to education, work, healthcare and life free of violence and abuse.

Rights of widows should be protected. It is not about enacting the law but about implementing it. Women have a right to inherit property from their deceased fathers and husbands and from any other person who awards property to them under their will. This right is guaranteed by Section 43 of the Constitution which provides that every citizen (irrespective of sex) in Nigeria, shall have the right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria, while Section 42 of the Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.“When a woman is deprived of the right to acquire property by inheritance by reason only of her gender, that amounts to discrimination, injustice, dehumanization and deprivation of their husbands’ property.

Widows, above all, should not be seen as taboos in society, since they have equal rights like every other person because any woman can become a widow someday.


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