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International Widows Day: NGOs advocate end to oppressive widowhood practices

A passionate call has been made on the need to end oppressive widowhood practices in parts of the country.

Non Governmental Organizations such as Whisper To Humanity Foundation and Sisters With A Goal Initiative made the call at a sensitisation workshop which they organised in Owerri, Friday 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 outstanding 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 said 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 fairly, 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.

She said, “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.”

Accoding to him widows are humans and they have the right to live and be happy adding that they should be allowed to do things that positively impact their environment.

One of the participants, Mrs Rabi Hassan, a widow, thanked the programme organisers for giving the widows a voice and advised her fellow widows not to give up on life.

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