By Bennett Oghifo
The commemoration of this yearâ€™s International Widows Day was unique for a large number of widows in Lagos who had a rare opportunity, provided by a group, Media Women Forum, to learn how they can start earning money.
The widows, who congregated at Water Parks, Ikeja, Lagos on June 21, were trained by Dr. Harry Benjamin, an American-Jamaican, and business man, on how to identify good business opportunities.
One of the widows Olufunke Ibigbami, who retired as Principal Lecturer at Lagos State Polytechnic, encourage the widows to take advantage of the training and get back on track.
Ibigbami, who also runs a widow foundation named after her late husband, Kayode Ibigbami spoke on how to overcome sorrow.
Dr. Omopeju Afanu, President WomenX 12, a women foundation, said a major source of sorrow for many of the widows was lack if financial assistance. Afanu, thus, promised to support 10 of the widows with little funding to start small businesses.
Members of Media Women Forum said they were also assisting widows to acquire marketable skills and encourage them to engage in service-based jobs.
International Widows Day was launched in 2010 by United Nations, to raise global awareness on the violation of human rights that widows suffer after the death of their husbands. Widows are often blamed for the death of their husbands, and to prove their innocence, some of them are subjected to funeral rights that sometimes include sexual violence, head shaving and drinking the water used in bathing the corpse of their husband.
A press statement by Media Women Forum said many widows are faced with stigmatisation, physical and mental abuse and sometimes ostracized. Most often they are chased out with their children without access to their husbandâ€™s property or money. The sudden descent into poverty forces some widows to resort to dangerous sex work or begging.
â€œStatistics show that there are about 245 million widows and 500 million children of widows worldwide. Reports say 1.5 million of these children die before age five.
â€œThe major reasons are malnutrition and inability of the mothers to pay for medical care. Millions of those who are alive are deprived of schooling due to extreme poverty. This makes them prime target for human traffickers.â€
â€œAs champions of the cause of women Media Women Forum encourages actions in achieving full rights for widows because we believe that widowâ€™s right is human right,â€ the statement signed by Janet Mba-Afolabi said.