As the world marked the 2015 International Widows’ Day on Tuesday, 23 June, over 100 widows in Lagos Nigeria have cried out for help against discrimination and social exclusion directed at widows by family members of deceased husbands.
Lamenting, Mrs Risikat Abiodun (38 years) disclosed that since her husband died seven years ago, his crashed car was sold and his family collected all the money and never showed up again to look after her and the children. For Mrs Ibidun Amusa, a 69-year old widow whose husband died 28 years ago, ‘My late husband’s family ejected me and my children from the house. I have been moving from one house to the other. We are currently homeless… as I could not pay rent as and when due. Feeding is hard and life is difficult.’
They therefore, called on all family members of deceased men in Nigeria to show love and care to widows in their families. The widows were speaking at the programme organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in collaboration with Hope For Life Initiative to commemorate the Day.
Earlier, the UN Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, emphasised the need to ‘erase the social stigmatization and economic deprivation that confronts widows; eliminate their high risk of sexual abuse and exploitation; and remove the barriers to resources and economic opportunities that constrain their future.’
The Secretary General in his message presented by the Director of UNIC Lagos, Mr Ronald Kayanja, and translated into Yoruba language by the Centre’s National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, further called for advancement of widows’ equal rights to inheritance, property, land and other assets.
Delivering the keynote address, the immediate past Chairperson of the House committee on Daispora at the House of Representatives, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, urged the widows to commit themselves to educating their children, adding that it would be a double jeopardy should their children dropped out or failed to attend a school.
In her welcome address, the Executive Director of Hope For Life Initiative, Ms Kendi Aig-Imoru, asserted that the challenges of widows and widowhood are challenges of all. Therefore everyone should join hands together to alleviate their hardship, abuse, discrimination and human rights violation.
The occasion was chaired by the first female Vice Chancellor in Nigeria, and a senior citizen, Prof Grace Alele-Williams.