In keeping with its vision of promoting widows’ rights and attaining a more equitable society for Nigerian widows, the Rose of Sharon Foundation (RoSF) held its bi-annual Widowhood Rights Program (WRP), a widows rights stakeholders’ sensitization and advocacy program in Lagos recently.
The program, which is the year’s second edition, had in attendance several benefactors, community leaders, and key government representatives from both the local and state levels. Since the first edition in March 2022, the WRP has continued to advocate for the upliftment of Nigerian widows through active engagement with stakeholders at the grassroots while discouraging discrimination and violent practices targeted at widows.
During the event, Dr Ndudi Bowei, the Country Manager of the Rose of Sharon Foundation, advocated for widows’ rights. She stated that the foundation was already taking steps to partner with the government and other non-governmental agencies in protecting the right of widows, who traditionally are victims of harmful cultural practices in our society.
She commented: “The Widowhood Rights Programme was created to draw attention to the numerous challenges that widows face in our communities. In addition, we are looking to build long-term partnerships with stakeholders at all levels to foster behavioural change toward widows’ plights, including degrading and dehumanizing mourning rites and related harmful cultural practices.
“To alleviate some of the challenges faced by widows, the Rose of Sharon Foundation has, on its part, continued to introduce several initiatives to better the lives of widows. Some of our programmes include enterprise development training, skills acquisition and vocational training and a micro-credit scheme that gives interest-free loans to the widows.” She added.
Speaking on the rights of widows, Ohakelem Chioma, a representative of the Chairperson of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Lagos, advised on the need for women, particularly widows, to become familiar with the laws and policies in the country. These laws, she said, are essential in the fight to protect the interest of widows, including the right to inherit their late spouse’s assets and to own property.
“Widowhood shouldn’t be an unacceptable situation in society. However, since death is inevitable, I encourage widows to take the gauntlet and move forward. So, when the demise of a husband happens, the women must learn how to protect their rights to provide for themselves,” she stated.
In his remarks, the Executive Chairman, Yaba Local Council Development Area, Hon. (Dr.) Kayode Adejare Omiyale commended the foundation for its numerous projects geared towards the economic upliftment of widows in the state. He explained that the leadership of the local council is happy to partner with the foundation in the LCDA.
“I want to commend the Rose of Sharon Foundation. I want to thank them for caring for the widows and appeal to them to continue to do their best. We are ready to provide you support in the areas where you need them,” he said.
Mrs Ogunlowo Funmilayo, one of the foundations’ beneficiaries, was full of praise for RoSF. While narrating her ordeal after losing her husband, she disclosed that the foundation’s intervention through the widow’s programme had provided the much-needed help to sustain her family.
She commented: “Two of my children received scholarships in private schools through one of their programmes. And two of my other children are now in their final years in secondary school and university.”
“On top of that, the foundation has allowed me to attend several training programs and has offered me loans to help me start a business,” she added.
It would be recalled that in August 2022, the Rose of Sharon Foundation organized a two-day workshop where other widows, like Mrs Ogunlowo, were trained in hydrographic-water transfer printing processes and online marketing. The training was designed to give widows a chance to learn lucrative business skills to help them develop a source of income for themselves and their families.