Serendipity House and God’s Wives Organisation (SHGWO), an NGO, has decried the alleged “neglect of widows by the society and governments’’.
Mrs Ayo Jaiyeola, Founder of SHGWO, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos that widows were sometimes ostracised by friends and relations, not taking cognisance of their plight.
She spoke ahead of the 2018 International Widows Day (IWD) which is marked annually on June 23, to empower widows and help them regain their rights.
The theme for 2018 is: “Developing Resources and Policy to Empower Widows”.
According to Jaiyeola, widows are typically plagued with the challenge of carrying out their responsibilities to their children because most of them are driven into poverty by the death of their husbands.
“We have challenges in taking care of the widows; till date, I have about 8,800 of them.
“When they come to the office; we try to give them food, we help with school fees, rent and for some, set up some little businesses for them.
“Our number one concern is that government has no well-designed policy in place to safeguard their rights or even a Commission for Widows.
“Even, most `First Ladies’ in Nigeria are competing with NGOs, in the sense that they just want to do projects that will make them shine for a while; projects without definite sustainability,” she said.
Jaiyeola said that the United Nations (UN) estimated the number of widows to be about 285 million globally, with over 115 million living in poverty.
“Widows in many countries often confront a denial of inheritance and land rights, degrading and life threatening mourning and burial rites and other forms of widow abuse.
“In many countries, a woman’s social status is inextricably linked to her husband’s, such that when her husband dies, a woman no longer has a place in society,’’ the UN said.
Jaiyeola commended individuals and NGOs that make it a point of duty to help widows.
She said SHGWO would host a ball for widows on the day of IWD (June 23) as part of the activities to mark this year’s event.
“We are creating a ball; a ball is an event that people all over the world have with spouses, friends and relations.
“Widows do not usually get invited to parties except they are influential; people do not reckon with them anymore in the families, even in churches.
“Every opportunity we have, we invite people to come and dance with them; that way, they will know they still belong in the society,” she said.
According to her, the ball will take place at Adetiloye Hall, Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral, Ikeja, from 7 a.m. to 12 noon.
Jaiyeola urged people to reach out to widows by calling or visiting them as well asking after their welfare.