Widows Are Humans – Groups Seek End To Oppressive Practices In Nigeria
The Whisper To Humanity Foundation and Sisters With A Goal Initiative, both Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), have called for an end to oppressive widowhood practices in parts of the country.
The NGOs while stressing the need to end all forms of discrimination, violence and maltreatment faced by widows made the call at a sensitisation workshop organized in Owerri, on Thursday, to mark the year 2022 International Widows Day.
Recall that June 23 of every year was set aside by the UN in year 2011, following its resolution number A/RES/65/189, as a Day to draw attention to the voices and experiences of widows and to galvanize the unique support that they need.
Executive Director, Whisper To Humanity, Mary-Jacobs Okwuosa, said that the foundation, a youth-led feminist organisation, was addressing concerns bordering on the plight of widows who were oppressed.
She added that her desire to uplift humanity was what informed her eagerness to bridge the gaps through capacity building, education and knowledge dissemination.
She advised Nigerians to treat widows with fairness adding that “widowhood is not death and the society should stop making it an oppression”.
Speaking, the Executive Co-ordinator, Sisters With A Goal Initiative, Mrs MarJorie Ezihe, pledged her commitment to helping widows confront their monsters, deal with their issues and be able to take care of themselves and their families.
Ezihe, a widow and rights activist who is also the Co-ordinator of the Imo Committee for Ending Violence Against Women and Girls, frowned at oppressive widowhood practices such as forceful shaving of hair, restriction of movement and deprivation.
She urged widows not to allow themselves be intimidated, but to face their fears and speak up for their voices to be heard.
” Grief is a personal thing and forceful shaving of hair as a sign of grief is unconstitutional, which is why we are sustainably engaging the conversations around harmful widowhood practices.
” Widows are humans, they have the right to live and be happy. They should be allowed to do things that positively impact their environment”, she said.
One of the participants, Mrs Rabi Hassan, a widow, thanked the organisers of the programme for giving the widows a voice and advised her fellow widows not to give up on life.