Widows in Lagos State have been advised to acquire vocational skills and get involved in active politics, to fully engage themselves, upon the death of their spouses.
The advice came from Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, wife of the governor of the state, while delivering the keynote address at an event in Surulere, Lagos, organized by the Rose of Sharon Foundation, to mark the 2016 International Widows Day
Speaking on ‘Widow’s Economic Empowerment and Political Participation: A call to Action’, Mrs. Ambode noted that a widow without a vocational skill would be badly disadvantaged, as she had to depend on external support for everything.
She said a widow without empowerment, would be unstable and incapable of taking decisions on important issues, affecting her and the children.
According to her, ‘Economic empowerment means everything to the widow… Empowerment helps the widow to stabilize in the midst of the storm; to gain her voice in the crowd; to swim against the tide and to take a firm decision when the odds are clearly against her’.
She enjoined them to take advantage of the skill acquisition programme of the state government, which teaches many vocational skills in various centres across the state.
‘At those centres, there is free training on decoration and event planning, fashion, tie and dye, soap-making, pomade-making, hair-dressing, catering and many more.
The overall objective is to make widows financially independent and to become employers of labour’, she stressed.
Speaking further, she advised the widows to make themselves socially relevant by engaging in active politics.
She said, ‘Bad as it may be for a woman to have lost her beloved spouse, that should not be the end of her own life too. In most cases, children are there to look after. Therefore, wowen, specifically widows should play active politics’.
In her own address, founder of the foundation, Mrs. Folorunsh Alakija, noted that the foundation used the widow’s day, to draw attention to the plight of widows and how they could be supported.
She called on public-spirited Nigerians to join hands to ameliorate the sufferings of down-trodden citizens.
Highlights of the event included health talks and health checks on the widows.
In a related development, the wife of the president of the country, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, has called for an end to wicked and inhuman widowhood rites imposed on Nigerian women.
She made the call in Ikoyi, at the celebration of the widow’s day, organized by the United Nations Information Centre and Hope for Life Foundation, where she was represented by Mrs. Bolanle Ambode.
She lamented the life-threatening widowhood rituals to which Nigerian women are subjected, called for cultural transformation, and advised the widows to seek economic empowerment to live above cheap temptations.
Delivering the UN secretary-general’s address, director, United Nations Information Centre in Nigeria, Mr. Ronald Kayanja, commended Lagos State for providing the model to follow regarding the welfare of women and children.
He urged everyone to support the widows by not stigmatizing them and by ensuring they do not suffer any form of discrimination or sexual abuse.