Why Widows Should Get Engaged Economically, Politically

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Mary Ekah
The condition of a widow is a tough challenge, especially so in this part of the world where there are so many hostile acts against the women, most of which come from wicked cultural practices. The situation is made extremely tough for the widow who has many children to cater for. She takes care of the feeding of the children, the rent, school fees, upkeep of the woman herself and many more. All these are the responsibilities of both parents now left for the woman alone

Widows are some of the most volatile people in our society and as such need all the assistance they can possibly get to continue with life after the death of their husbands. It is on this note that the Rose of Sharon Foundation (RoSF), an NGO focused on alleviating the plight of widows and orphans, has over the years used every opportunity accorded it as advocacy tool to draw attention to the plights of widows and orphans around the world and to help in alleviating their burdens.

During the recently celebrated International Widows’ Day marked all over the world to address the poverty and injustice faced by widows, the Foundation seized the opportunity of the ocassion to bring to bare once again the pains and agony that widows and their children go through after the death of their breadwinners.

The Founder, RoSF, Mrs. Folorunso Alakija explained that every year the Foundation works with state governments, federal government and its agencies, Civil Society Organisations, NGOs, and private sectors to ensure that every widow’s right is upheld in our society. The International Widows Day, Alakija noted, falls within RoSF Advocacy Programme (RAP) and this year, the Foundation brought together notable voices in a panel of discussants to advocate for more economic empowerment and political participation for widows who wish to run for political office.

In addition to the panel of discussants was a medical enlightenment campaign, which included a health talk on depression as well as a medical team to carry out free health checks with free drugs for minor illness for the widows and orphans.

“We must act locally and think globally as we continue to bring the pains of our groups of widows, their children and orphans to the forefront with the hope that as we do so, we will improve their lots through the right channels of legislation and social awakening”, Alakija said,.

Speaking during the event on the topic, ‘Widow’s Economic Empowerment and Political Participation: A Call for Action’, the wife of Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, said it was important for women in this category to note that the most important thing to pursue in this condition is a means of livelihood.

“The greatest friend and consolation at such time is economic empowerment in form of a job or an acquired skill that can bring a regular income. Your skill help you keep busy and helps you to think less about the unfortunate situation on hand. Above all, it helps you to meet your basic financial needs,” Ambode said.

Speaking further, the Governor’s wife said, “economic empowerment means everything to a widow because widow without any form of empowerment is like a reed in the middle of a river. She flows in the direction of tide and does not have a mind of her own and sometimes finds it difficult to take a decision of her own no matter how important.” Ambode noted further, “economic empowerment helps the widow to stabilise in the midst of the storm, to gain her voice in crowd, to swim against the tide and to make a firm decision when the odds are clearly against her.”

Following closely on economic empowerment, Ambode said was political participation for widows. “Thanks to our growing democracy, the political space is constantly expanding to accommodate and engage women in political offices, either as elected or appointed office holders.”

She stressed further that bad as it may be for a woman to lose her beloved spouse, that should not be the end of her own life too as children are there to look after in most cases. She therefore encouraged women, specifically widows, to not only empower themselves economically but to also play active politics.

The First Lady commended the Rose of Sharon Foundation for making tremendous impacts in the lives of widows, children and orphans in the years passed, noting, “It has offered thousands of scholarships to orphans and children of widows, and has put smiles on the faces of thousands of widows themselves through various types of empowerment.”
While appreciating the efforts of the founder for the great vision behind the foundation and for her kind thoughts towards the less-privileged, she called on other public-spirited Nigerians to emulate Alakija’s constant gesture of extending a helping hand to the people in need.

Others that graced the occasion include First Lady of Imo State Mrs. Nneoma Okorocha who was represented by the immediate past Commissioner, Budget and Planning/Economic Development and Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Imo State, Hon. Adaora Ijezie as well as Consultant Psychiatrist, Medical Director, Mayfield Medical Clinic, Yaba, Lagos, Dr. Idowu Malomo and other distinguished panel of speakers.