By CrossRiverWatch admin
International Widows Day takes place every year on 23rd June. It was initially launched by the Loomba Foundation at the House of Lords in London in 2005.
The date, 23 June, was chosen because on this day, Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba, Lord Loomba’s mother and the inspiration for the Foundation, became a widow.
The wife of the Governor and First Lady of Cross River State, Dr. Linda Ayade, yesterday held a press conference in commemoration of the International Widows Day, 2015, where she described as evil, the discriminatory patriarchal system in our society that violates the rights of widows to inherit the estate of her husband in the event of his death and challenged the men folk in the state to combat the practice.
The First Lady, who was represented at the event by the Wife of the Deputy Governor of the State, Mrs. Omotunde Ivara Esu, also vowed to her position and contacts to help provide social housing and other amenities to as many widows and aged people as possible, in the state adding that that will be one of the pilot programs of her organisation, Mediatrix Development Foundation.
According Dr. Ayade, “I use this opportunity of the celebration of the International Widows Day to call on all members of society to shun attitudes, beliefs and cultural practices that bring pain to Widows and their children.
“The discriminatory patriarchal system in our society that violates the rights of Widows to inherit the estate of her husband in the event of his death is a good example of such evil practices.
“The good men of Cross River State should combat this by encouraging their wives to study and to work so that they can also contribute to the family and have their own means of sustainable livelihood. The men should endeavor to write their wills and clearly indicate their wives as next-of-kin and beneficiaries of their estates in order to protect the people they have loved during their lifetime from becoming stranded in the event of their deaths.”
She lamented that “we still hear of communities that totally ignore the grieving woman’s pain and loss. Instead, she is accused of being responsible for the death of her own husband, and is therefore further subjected to gross emotional torture. In some of these communities, such women are put through unimaginable conditions like; being compelled to drink concoctions or they are even confined with the dead to prove their innocence.
“Such injustice meted out to Widows can only lead to health challenges, depression, loss of self worth, poorer living conditions and a reduction in life span. Of course, their after effects are interpreted as a punishment from the gods!”
She further enjoined traditional rulers to shun superstition and not to allow culture become an excuse for backwardness.
“Our traditional rulers, being the custodians of our cultural heritage, should shun superstition; they should never allow culture to be the excuse for backwardness and insensitivity to the plight of the widow and her children, rather they must endeavor to review those retrogressive traditions. There are cultural practices and customary laws that are repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience. They must strive to create more humane, tolerable and accommodating conditions for the widow and her children.”
The First Lady revealed that the state has a record of over 20,000 widows formed into cooperative societies already and said her office and the various relevant ministries will continually render support and the necessary assistance to widows and their children in order to improve the quality of their lives.
“While I know that this will be a demanding and capital intensive project considering the cost of housing today, I also know that it is possible and necessary because the right to shelter is fundamental. With the support of corporate bodies as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility, and with International Humanitarian Organisations and public spirited individuals, we can make a difference in the lives of widows.” She concluded.
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