They were bubbling with unspoken joy and great aspirations inside the Prestige Hotel in Benin City, the Edo State capital, as the Felix King Foundation handed off business grants and training certificate through its empowerment initiative to them. They were 96 in number and were widows who obviously were indigenes of Edo State. This time, the initiative was carried out in conjunction with the Edo State House of Assembly.
The empowerment initiative of the foundation has been doing mighty things in Lagos, empowering vulnerable widows, police officers’ widows and awards of scholarship to widows’ children, as well as food stuffs and beverages support to them.
Felix king, who presented the financial support to the widows, said that the foundation was in Edo State to give a voice to the challenges of widowhood in the communities and provide support for a better life for these widows through empowerment and skills acquisition initiatives.
The skills acquisition training and mentoring kick started the Edo State event, where the Deputy Speaker, Edo House of Assembly/Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs, Hon. Mrs. Elizabeth Uyinwen Ativie and other professionals trained the 96 widows on several businesses including trade and farming.
At the presentation, King recalled that on June 23, 2016 in Lagos, the foundation began journey of faith anchored on its understanding of the challenges of widowhood in an environment like Nigeria where superstitions and weak laws of inheritance have through the years conspired to make life very tough for these widows.
He said, in subjecting widows to hardship and disinheriting them as is the practice in most areas, “We are trapped by the patriarchal dogma and superstition that tend to lower the status and welfare of widows in particular and women as a whole.”
As a prelude to the Widows in Farming initiative- WIFARM AID programme scheduled for launch later in the year, “we are today providing business support grants and skills acquisition to 96 widows in Edo State at the ratio of three widows per constituency and the remaining numbers to be selected by Edo State widows’ Association,” King said.
He continued: “I believe, every woman deserves the right to liberty and the right to succeed. It is with this belief we will introduce the freedom campaign for widows using the #Abolishwidowsmaltreatment with the coin of liberty as a symbol.”
He however, appealed to all stakeholders to help ameliorate the situations of widows in the state, demanding that legislative arm of government should do a little more to end this menace. Meanwhile, King mandated the widows to utilise the funds appropriately.
The Deputy Speaker, Ativie thanked Felix King Foundation for choosing Edo State as a pilot for the initiative. She called stakeholders to see widows as part of the society, noting, “The untold hardship that widows go through after the death of their husbands is better imagined, from psychological, emotional, and financial and others.” She however expressed optimism stating that “all the inhuman treatments on widows have been prohibited in Edo State.”
“I wish to encourage all widows here today to put the past bitter experiences behind them and embrace the future with renewed vigour and confidence.” She tasked widows for the judicious use of the funds. “This empowerment should be judiciously used and channeled into investment project that will continue to yield returns for you.”
The Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly Dr, Justin Okonoboh commended Felix King Foundation for the kind gesture and promised to ensure that the assembly will do everything possible to strengthen the existing laws on widow’s maltreatment in the state.