The Support Toward Advancement Networking and Development for Women And Children Foundation says the recognition, protection and enforcement of widows’ rights are vital to attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Its Executive Director, Mrs Olusayo Adeleye, made the assertion at the 2019 International Widows’ Day in Ibadan.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that International Widows’ Day is a United Nations day of action to highlight and combat discrimination and injustice suffered by widows worldwide.
It was initiated by the Loomba Foundation in 2005. The plights of widows worldwide has been the foundation’s focus since it was established in 1997.
According to its founder, Raj Loomba, women in many countries experience great hardship after the death of their husbands.
“They are not looked after by governments or NGOs and they are shunned by society.”
The observance falls on June 23 because Loomba’s mother became a widow on that date in 1954.
Adeleye, also a legal practitioner, said that the widows’ rights must be a development priority.
According to her, protecting their rights is crucial to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Widows must not be left behind in the attainment of SDGs.
“Empowering widows to live productive lives, regardless of their marital status will contribute in no small measure to attaining the SDGs.
“Notably: Goal 1– End Poverty; Goal 2-Zero Hunger; Goal 3- Good Health and Wellbeing; Goal 5- Gender Equality, Goal 8- Decent Work and Economic Growth and Goal 10- Reduced Inequalities among others,” she said.
Adeleye called for the abolition of harmful widowhood practices and inhumane traditional rites which endanger the lives of widows.
She said these unhealthy practices could result in serious health issues, including psychological trauma to the widow who was already traumatised by the loss of a husband.
The women’s rights activist, also called on the three tiers of government to formulate policies that would protect and empower widows.
“Widows all over the world, more especially in developing countries like Nigeria, face this realities.
“The governments and society must begin to take urgent steps to protect widows from the harsh situations they usually find themselves after the death of their husbands.
“If we are to be taken seriously as a nation that fights for women’s rights and equality, the governments must look into the issues of widows,” she said.
Adeleye said: “It is estimated that there are over 248 million widows all over the world and nearly half of this numbers 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.”
She reteirated her organisation’s commitment to adequate recognition and enforcement of women and children’s rights, urging other civil society organisations to do the same.
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