*Demands inclusion in Governance.
By Boluwaji Obahopo, LOKOJA
Widows in Kogi State has called on the state House of Assembly to enact a law that will address the equity and rights of destitute widows in the state especially as regards violence against the widows.
This is just as the widows also called on the State Governments to as a matter of policy include a sizeable number of widows in the highest decision making organs of government.
The widows made the appeal yesterday in Lokoja, at an inter-religious prayer session organized to mark the 2021 International Widows Day.
The organizer who channelled the day to pray for the state government for maintaining peace across the state said the government must put in place programmes and policies that will end violence, tackle poverty and support widows of all ages.
According to the Convener of the programme, Ojone Ojatah, pointed out that the theme of this year’s celebration; “Invisible Women, Invisible Problems” was carefully chosen to reflect the trauma widows encounter as a result of the loss of their partners.
Ojatah lamented that Kogi state has an estimated 89,000 registered widows as of 2018 which is expected to be more by this year, stressing that although widows across the world suffered similar challenges, the situation is devastating in the developing economies.
She noted that the loss of their husbands is magnified by a long time struggle for meeting basic needs of lives, human rights abuses and how to ensure their dignity is respected by society.
“As women, we have specific needs, however, our voices are often absent from policy that impact on our survival. We are most vulnerable to rape due to insufficient shelter and vulnerability to violence. We are particularly vulnerable in the context of HIV and Aids.
“According to the World Bank reports, noted that widows are often victims of violence from In-laws and humiliating rights abuses, dress code and isolation as part of the mourning rites to demonstrate grief and loyalty to their husbands even after death.
“Widows often experience hidden human rights violations, particularly child widows, these violations are embedded in social, political, economic, religious, cultural and traditional beliefs and practices. As a result of this child, widows are rendered invisible and subjected to violence, extreme poverty, marginalisation, oppression and neglect.” She informed.
While commending Governor Yahaya Bello and his Deputy, Edward Onoja for their proactiveness in stemming insecurity and ensured peace and tranquillity across the state, said, the peace enjoyed has helped to reduce the mortality of men in the state.
Ojatah noted that in the light of their contribution to the longevity of lives of husbands, her association “Widows and Orphans Care Foundation”, decided to package inter-religious prayer sessions for God to protect them (Governor and Deputy) from all machinations of the devil as they continue with the provision of purposeful leadership for the state.
The prayer session has widows drawn from the 21 local Government Council of the state, with Traditional Rulers, Religious leaders who prayed fervently for Gov. Bello and his Deputy Edward Onoja and for the state.
The royal father of the occasion, AjofeJohn Egwemi, the paramount ruler of Ibaji local Government traditional council, commended the convener, for bringing together widows across the state to pray for the people and government of the state.
The monarch urged her to continue with her good work which has been on for over two decades.