A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Women Centre for Self-Empowerment and Development (WOCSED), has appealed that widows across Nigeria participate in economic empowerment programmes to improve their status.
It said that acquiring the skills from different empowerment programmes would give the widows, who were left with solely addressing the family expenses, to become self-reliant rather than rely on relatives to pay their bills daily.
The founder of WOCSED, Onyeka Obi, who made the call at the commemoration of International Widows’ Day at Igbo-Ukwu in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, expressed concern over the plights of widows in the present times, saying they are made invisible to society with dire economic implications.
According to Obi, one of the greatest consolations to a bereaved widow is economic empowerment in the form of a job or an acquired skill that can bring a regular income.
Obi, at the even themed: ‘Invisible Women, Invisible Problems’, added: “Widows in our society are mostly faced with stigmatisation, persecution, deprivation, marginalisation, and exclusion as a result of the demise of their husbands.
“The incidence of widowhood is often a catalyst to poverty. This is why, as a responsive organisation, we are having this event to respond to some of the plights of widows and their children who suffered exclusion in the country.
“We urge widows to acquire skills that will keep them busy, help them think less about the unfortunate situation on hand and help them meet their basic financial needs. We also want to educate widows on the need to embrace a healthy lifestyle to prevent diseases such as cancers,” she added.
Obi, meanwhile, urged the government at all levels and well-meaning Nigerians to reach out and help widows in the society, just as she reminded the people that no one knew when he or she would die, hence, the need to show sympathy and provide succour to vulnerable widows, instead of adding to their sorrows.
The group, which gave out cash gifts and clothing, also rendered free diabetes, blood sugar, hypertension, HIV, Hepatitis B, Cervical and Breast Cancer screening to widows.
Appreciating the convener on behalf of the widows, Josephine Okeke, urged other organisations to emulate WOCSED in solving the welfare problems of widows in society.
The International Widows’ Day was set aside to commemorated every June 23 in an effort to empower widows and help them regain their rights, which have long been ignored and violated.