International Widows Day, marked every June 23, is dedicated to women who suffer exploitation, deprivation, persecution as a result of their husbands’ demise. The day is aimed at showing solidarity with women who have lost their partners.
In commemoration of this year’s International Widows’ Day, Tender hearts foundation organised a special Seminar/empowerment event in Lagos, in honor of widows whose rights are often trampled upon. The special event held at the Newcastle Hotel, Lekki Lagos, under the global theme, “Invisible women, Invisible problems”. The event started with a medical outreach, then progressed to a mind shifting lecture series, before the empowerment of widows, as well as grant support (under the foundation’s grant/startup support program).
Speaking during the event , Amb. Sally Othihiwa (the founder/visioner) posited during her introductory address that “despite the fact that there are many widows in Nigeria, widows have historically been left unseen, unsupported, and unmeasured in our societies“. She noted that the plights of Nigerian widow cannot be overestimated. They’re already lardened with the trauma of losing their husbands, traditions do not also make things easy for these women as they have to go through various forms of intimidation, pressure and abuse. The continual ill-treatment could make them slide into a poor mental health.
THF decided to commemorate the International Widows’ Day with the rest of the world because in this part of the world, widows are always faced with abject poverty, maltreatment, abuse making them invisible to the world”
In her keynote address, the the president of FIDA – The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) , Mrs. PHILOMENA NNEJI (JP). LLM, (UNILAG) FICMC (who spoke about harmful widowhood rites and the law) , expressed concerns over the level of oppression and ill treatment meted on widows, even as they go through the tough task of caring of their families left behind by their late husbands. Some mourning rites are said to be aimed at removing the bad luck or misfortune that is said to surround the widow and which makes people discriminate against her or fear her. She added that there are laws that protect women and widows in the society, but the problem boils down to execution and awareness. She urged policy makers( especially female policy makers) to address the plight of widows as policies they should considered when making decisions.
The Group head of Business developement and trust company, Mrs Victoria Madedor, was the guest speaker that spoke on “mental health and healthy living”. She gave her personal testimony of how being a survivor of depression made her passionate about helping women and girls facing similar issues. She noted that widows in Nigeria often suffer from huge challenges such as loneliness, stigmatization and poverty, which could trigger most of them into depression and a poor state of health. Rising above the situation can be done if widows learn to speak up, and to the right people. “It hurts to know that we have such a sour history of treating widows and the end is not yet in sight”.
According to the founder, “Tender hearts foundation is a charity organisation that that is always on the move towards indigent women and girls in the society.This is a great opportunity for us to mark the widows’ day with the Nigerian widow. “ She added that skills acquisition and empowerment programme were often organised for girls and women to learn different skills and minimal capital were given to them to start off petty businesses that were not too capital- intensive. THF appreciates all the partner brands and individuals that supported this event.