By Elizabeth Osayande
Mrs Phil Nneji, Chairperson, International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, Lagos State chapter, has appealed to governments and policymakers to provide laws and policies that will eradicate harmful practices against widows in the country.
Nneji made the appeal at a seminar and empowerment ceremony to celebrate 2021 International Widow’s Day.
The event was organised in Lagos on Wednesday by Tender Hearts Foundation, a non-governmental organisation.
The 2021 International Widow’s Day had the theme: “Invisible Women, Invisible Problems”.
According to her, governments should know that widows need help.
“They have special needs because they go through a lot from their husbands’ family members and cultural practices in the society.
“We have been getting reports about some people still practising harmful traditional acts against widows such as shaving their heads, locking them up, denying them bath.
“Governments should provide specific laws to protect the rights of widows in Nigeria,” Nneji urged.
She remarked that the theme of the 2021 International Widows Day celebration was apt because widows were invisible in the society due to loneliness.
“They need to be cared for because most widows live in extreme poverty.
“According to United Nation statistics, we have about 350 million widowed people all over the world; 80 per cent are widows (women) and 20 per cent, widowers (men).
“The number of widows are high, they need to be comforted. Policymakers or decisionmakers should involve them in decision making,”Nneji said.
Mrs Sally Othihiwa, Founder of Tender Hearts Foundation, urged governments to effectively enforce laws to protect widows against harmful or barbaric practices.
Othihiwa, also a UN Ambassador for Peace and Social Justice, said there was the need to keep creating awareness of widows’ fundamental rights.
“We adopt this day to raise awareness of the issue of widowhood in Nigeria because when you empower a woman, you have empowered a nation.
“One of our key goals is to highlight unforseen calamity and provide means of help for the women.
“They suffer from in-laws’ abuse, discrimination, maltreatment, rejection and economic deprivation purely because they have lost their husbands,” she said.
Othihiwa urged philanthropists and other well-meaning individuals to support the organisations in order to support more widows and less privileged women in Nigeria.
Mrs Victoria Madedor, Group Head, Business Development, BOI Investment and Trust Company, advised widows to speak out in times of depression, anxiety and hyperactivity.
Madedor said that the more people would speak up, the more they would realise they were not alone in any situation.
“Always be happy regardless of whatever happens to you,” she advised.
Tender Hearts Foundation gave a widow, Mrs Blessing Umudi, a grant of N60,000 to support her business and other widow were given clothes and food stuffs.
NAN reports that Tender Hearts Foundation started three years ago as a charity organisation for less privileged women.