The plight of widows around the world reveals that there are an estimated 245 million widows worldwide, 115 million of who live in poverty, suffer from social stigmatization and economic deprivation purely because they have lost their husbands; according to the research presented to UN Secretary-Gene ral Ban Ki-moon on June 22nd, 2010.
In Nigeria, today, the phenomenon of widowhood is yet to be understood, across different cultures in Nigeria, there exist harmful traditional widowhood practices which have attracted the attention of the global struggle in general on violence against women. Sufficient evidence suggests that widowed women are severely affected financially, psychologically, sexually and socially and these are rooted in cultural and traditional practices as well as the socialization processes that condition women to dependence. These conditions have erected enormous difficulties for women to creatively initiate new robust relationships with both men and women in social and economic spheres upon widowhood. The debilitating conditions of women are worsened by societal factors that instrumentally feed into the situation ranging from loss of livelihood and the fact that widows are less likely to remarry than widowers. Widows rather than sympathized with are more often subjected to near inhuman treatment in traditional ritual rites and practices such as solitary confinement, defacement, disinheritance and a relatively long mourning period of limited socio-economic activities. The most obvious effects are deepening poverty, acute stress, depression, loss of identity and self-esteem. The widowhood conditions expose women to psychological and physical abuse as well as a whole range of health-related problems With these ranges of woes and some more befalling widows, spurred Advocacy for Widows’ Empowerment Foundation (ADWEF) in 2012 to come protect and advocate for human rights cum discovering and nurturing hidden entrepreneurial skills and providing a voice as a platform for action upon the concerns of widows.
Willie Workman Oga, founder of ADWEF said that the foundation’s roles in ensuring an assured life for the widows are in no small measure and that they very well include – educating widows on their basic human rights, cooperating with existing NGOs to educate men on the need to write their wills early in life and make their wives their next of kin in all insurance, employment and banking document in order to ease the accessibility of funds for use of their family in instances of their deaths and sourcing for funds through sponsorships and donations for the training of 100 widows annually. ADWEF also empowers trained widows to establish their own businesses, monitor their progress and also go all the way to celebrate widows who have excelled in their chosen fields.
Mr. Workman listed four main initiatives that are meant to train a hundred women yearly, which include; ADWEF WIDOWS EMPOWERMENT which is designed for the training and empowerment of widows between the ages of 25 – 60 years of age whom for whatever reason decided not to remarry since they lost their husbands.
The second initiative, he gleefully recounted in the FUNDRAISING and CHARITY 4 WIDOWS’ GRUV has always been a dinner-like event, which comes in as a concert and award night, solely designed to raise funds for the widows.
The third which is ADWEF SUMMIT ON WIDOWHOOD AND EMPOWERMENT is aimed at creating public awareness, sensitizing the society through speakers from the legal and medical professions about the plight of Nigerian widows and proffering solutions in form of communiqué to the government to legislate on it and reform existing laws that protect the fundamental human rights of widows,
The very last one, ADWEF HEALTH CHECKS 4 WIDOWS is a medical outreach event designed to enable widows to know their health status and at the same time issue medical advice that will enhance health and other related issues.
After all, said and still actively doing, Mr. Oga concluded that ADWEF will never relent in this core service to humanity to bringing the sorrows of widows in his community and beyond six feet beneath.