The International Women Society (IWS) through its Widows Trust Fund says it has empowered no fewer than 1,500 widows since its inception.
Mrs Banke Adeola, Chairperson, IWS, disclosed this durung the 2023 Widows Feast and commemoration of the 24th year anniversary of the Society, in Lagos.
Adeola said that the organisation had not only invested in empowering widows, but had also supported widows in their emotional and psychological lives through various platforms.
“IWS Nigeria is at the forefront of sustainable development for widows in Nigeria, for over two decades, over 1,500 widows have been empowered.
“Over the last two decades, the Widows Trust Fund has been providing support and empowerment to widows all over Nigeria, offering them a path to sustainability and helping them reclaim their lives.
“To date, IWS has been able to provide financial assistance to over 1,500 widows in need.
“We have also established partnerships with several local businesses to provide job training and employment opportunities for widows.
“Over the years, the fund has provided not just financial support, but also emotional and psychological support, helping widows to heal and to rebuild their lives,” she said.
Adeola noted that the organisation had been able to raise awareness about the struggles faced by widows through various community events and campaigns.
She said going forward, serious attention would be focused on ‘sustainability for widows’.
According to her, this will not only be providing immediate assistance but also creating long-term solutions that will empower widows to become self-sufficient.
Adeola explained that in Nigeria, widowhood most times comes with maltreatment, discrimination, and stigmatisation, also, traditions and neo-patriarchy present challenges to Nigerian women.
She said, “some traditions bar women from inheriting land and property, widows are forced to drink the water used to wash their husband’s corpse. This is in the belief that it will kill them if they are guilty of causing his death, or make to declare their innocence before a local deity.
“They may be forced to shave their hair, It is the most gruesome experience anyone could face.
“As widows move through their own experiences of grief, loss, or trauma after the death of a spouse, they may also face economic insecurity, discrimination, stigmatization, and harmful traditional practices.
“The stigma or outright rejection a woman who has lost her husband can face often leaves her abandoned.
“Superstition causes other women to believe they may lose their husbands if they associate with a widow, while some men fear they, too, will die.
“With all of this in mind, IWS established a Widows Trust Fund 24 years ago, long before the United Nations ratified the International Widows Day,” she said.
Adeola appreciated every individual who had supported and donated to the course of the widows
“We understand that sustainable development is a continuous process, and we are committed to working tirelessly to ensure that widows have the resources and support they need to lead fulfilling lives.
“I would like to express my deep appreciation to all the supporters, donors, and volunteers of the Widows Trust Fund.
“Your generosity and compassion have made a profound difference in the lives of so many, let us continue to work together, to create a world where every widow can live with dignity, hope, and a sustainable future,” she said.
Mrs Hope Nwakwesi, a widow and founder of Almanah Hope Foundation, who delivered a paper on “Sustainablity for Widows”, disclosed that a bill seeking widows rights had passed the requisite readings and awaiting the next level on being signed into law.
She added that the bill would ensure that the maligned group would have respite from harmful widowhood traditional practices.