Chinwe Bode-Akinwande (CBA) Foundation, a non-governmental organisation in Nigeria, has called on the government to implement and enforce the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act (VAPP), which gives protection to widows in the country. She stressed that the government needs to create more awareness about the act for widows to know their rights and also for people to tread with caution.
Speaking with newsmen through virtual conference in Lagos on Tuesday in commemoration of the 2020 United Nations’ International Widows’ Day, the founder of the foundation, Mrs Chinwe Bode-Akinwande, said the call became necessary following the rise in cases of rape, sexual harassment, confiscation of properties, violence, dehumanization, discrimination, poverty and all manners of molestations suffered mostly by women, especially the widows and their children.
According to her, “Nobody wishes to lose a loved one; losing someone is never easy and having to live life without your partner is even harder.
“For women all over the world, the loss of a spouse is even bigger as they have to struggle for their basic needs, rights and dignity. As we mark International Widows’ Day 2020 today, June 23, I implore us all to take a closer look at our immediate environ, culture/tradition, families, history and significance of the day.
“According to the United Nations, there are an estimated 258 million widows around the world, and nearly one in 10 lives in extreme poverty. Apart from that, 2.7 billion women are denied access to the same choice of jobs as men due to certain unconfronted restrictions, and lots face gender-based violence even today.
“The issue of rape, sexual harassment and all manners of molestations are suffered mostly by women not to think of the most vulnerable amongst them – the widows.”
She added that sufficient evidence suggests that widowed women “are severely affected financially, psychologically, sexually and socially and these are rooted in cultural and traditional practices as well as the socialization processes that condition women to dependence. These conditions have erected enormous difficulties for women to creatively initiate new robust relationships with both men and women in social and economic spheres upon widowhood.
“It’s even sadder that widows are not looked after by families, the private sector, governments, etc. and to worsen the matter, societies curse them.
“Their children also face several problems like being withdrawn from school and becoming more vulnerable to abuse. The CBA Foundation has joined to lend its voice for the past five years.”
CBA added that there was a need to develop policies and programmes to address the problems that widows face in the world, which is the reason she founded the CBA Foundation.
“The day is important as it brings about awareness among the public the problems that widows face all over the world. It is a time to reflect on the progress that has been made, and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women. It is also a day to draw the attention of the people to take action and provide full rights and recognition for widows. The purpose for marking this day is clear – to care for widows and their children, and to change the culture that discriminates against them.
“We are therefore calling on well-meaning Nigerians to join us today to give them hope, stop dehumanization and injustice towards them,” Bode-Akinwande said.
International Widows Day is a United Nations-ratified day of action to address the “poverty and injustice faced by millions of widows and their dependants in many countries”. Established by The Loomba Foundation, the day takes place annually on 23 June. This year, the theme is ‘I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights’, which is aligned with UN Women’s new multi-generational campaign, Generation Equality.
Established in 2015, the CBA Foundation, under its 5-point agenda, has reached out to thousands of underprivileged widows and children through skills acquisition training, health intervention, business start-ups and provision of clothing, nutrition and tuition fee for the children.
In breakdown, 5,600 widows have been empowered through its women empowerment and capacity building initiative; over 3,500 underprivileged widows have received health intervention; over 3,500 have also received food items. The foundation has also reinstated 45 children in school, empowered 120 widows financially to start a business of their own and also, provided palliative to 250 widows during the COVID-19 pandemic lock-down.
More about CBA Foundation on www.cbafoundation.org