By Evelyn Ohiolei
An Non-Governmental Organization, the Support Towards Advancement Networking and Development For Women And Children Foundation, has called for the recognition, protection and enforcement of widows’ rights.
The Executive Director of the Foundation, Mrs Olusayo Adeleye, made this call on the sideline of the 2019 International Widows’ Day.
The International Widows’ Day is a United Nations day of action to highlight and combat discrimination and injustice suffered by widows worldwide.
Adeleye, who is a legal practitioner, said that the widows’ rights must be a development priority, saying that protecting their rights is crucial to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She said: “Widows must not be left behind in the attainment of the SDGs.
“Empowering widows to live productive lives regardless of their marital status will contribute in no small measure to attaining several of the SDG goals, notably Goal 1 –End Poverty; Goal 2-Zero Hunger; Goal 3- Good Health and Well-being; Goal 5- Gender Equality , Goal 8- Decent Work and Economic Growth and Goal 10- Reduced Inequalities among others.”
She called for the abolition of harmful widowhood practices and inhumane traditional rites which endanger the lives of widows.
According to her these unhealthy practices could result in serious health issues including psychological trauma to the widow who is already traumatised by the loss of a husband.
The women’s rights activist further called on government at all levels to formulate policies that would protect and empower widows.
“Widows all over the world, more especially in developing countries like Nigeria face this reality.
“The government and society must begin to take urgent steps to protect widows from the harsh situations they usually find themselves in after their husbands’ deaths if we are to be taken seriously as a nation which fights for women’s rights and equality.
“It is estimated that there are over 248 million widows all over the world and nearly half of this number live in extreme poverty and are victims of acts of extreme cruelty.
“Governments across the globe must therefore take it upon themselves to ensure that programmes and policies for protecting and empowering widows and their children must be formulated and properly implemented and their enforcement, monitored,”She said.
Adeleye reiterated the continued commitment of her organisation, towards advocating for the adequate recognition and enforcement of women and children’s rights and enjoined other civil society organisations to do the same.