IWD: Ambode’s wife urges states to enact laws on rights of widows, as RoSF empowers them

Mrs Olufunto Igun (left) Mrs Iyabode Sonuga, Mrs Folorunso Alakija and Mrs Ayodeji Megbope at the event

Worried by the travails and plight of widows in the country, the wife of Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, has called for enactment of laws that will protect the rights of widows and bring to an end oppressive rites they are forced to perform after the demise of their husbands.

She urged states, particularly those where some of these obnoxious practices are endemic, to follow the example of other states such as Balyesa State that outlawed harmful traditional practices with Widows and Widowers Protection Bill in 2015 and Abia State that passed a bill for the Rehabilitation of Widows in 2011.

She advised them to craft appropriate laws to protect widows and engage appropriate agencies to enforce it.

Ambode made the call recently at a programme tagged “Economic Empowerment of Widows: A Call To Reach Out And Touch,” organised by the Rose of Sharon Foundation (RoSF) to mark the International Widows’ Day.

Ambode who was represented by the Director General, Lagos State Pension Commission, Dr. Folashade Onanuga, said widows in the country deserve to live a life that is free of stigmatization and rejection by the society while their right to peace of mind and their self esteem should in no way be diminished by anyone.

Ambode who is the grand matron of the foundation, said there is an urgency to ensure that widows are financially empowered to stand up against the oppressions around them.

“When a widow can meet her needs and gets the necessary support to be self-sustaining, then she is more confident and can raise her head and voice to stand and fulfil God’s plan and purpose for her life”, she said. She later donated N1 million to support the widows.

Speaking at the event, the Founder, Rose of Sharon Foundation, Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija remarked that they hope to draw more of public attention to the challenges facing the widows in the nation.

“We hope that in so doing, many more will become positive influencers in one way or the other in fighting for widows and their children all over our nation,” she said.

Noting that the pain most widows suffered today are inflicted by their in-laws, Alakija observed that there are laws put in place by the Federal Government that forbid anybody from maltreating widows and those that are vulnerable in the society.

Pointing out enforcement as the major problem of the law, she enjoined members of the public to have the courage to report on people suffering in the hands of their relations to the appropriate authority.

Alakija, however, stressed that the greatest need for widows is economic empowerment.

She said: “This is because most of them are stripped of their husbands financial and material resources at the demise of their spouses. The result is that widowed mothers, would have to support their families alone. Without help and support, they are forced to withdraw children from school and to rely on their labour.”

The businesswoman called on state governments to provide shelter for widows, even if it is just for a specific period of time until they can find their feet, maintaining that government must take responsibility for the widows and go the extra miles for them.

According to her, the foundation has empowered over 900 widows till date and sponsored one or two of their children on scholarship to the university level.

Alakija stated that presently, the foundation is providing scholarship to over 1,350 students, including orphans.

In her remark, the guest speaker at the event and CEO of No Left Overs Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Ayodeji Megbope, affluent people must reach out to those who are less privileged to assist them.

Using herself as example, she related how she started from the scratch, and advised small business owners to be diligent.

“Eradicate the mindset that somebody has to give you something or you need an uncle or aunty somewhere. Look around you and within you, use the potentials you have”.

Speaking on her experience, one of the widows, Mrs. Esom Nkolika, a fashion designer, described widowhood as a difficult road that is full of pain, loneliness, bitterness, challenges and battles. She was, however, grateful to the foundation for coming to her assistance, providing interest free loan and taking care of her children’s education.

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