The Lagos State Government, through the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA) on Wednesday, gave N20,000 cash benefit each to 1000 widows across the state.
The act was in commemoration of the 2021 International Widow’s Day.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the International Widows Day, marked every June 23, is dedicated to women who suffer exploitation, deprivation, persecution as a result of their husbands’ demise.
Speaking during the event held at Alausa, Ikeja, the Wife of the State Governor, Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, reiterated the state government’s zero-tolerance to all forms of violence against women, especially widows.
Mrs Sanwo-Olu, represented by the wife of Ojo Local Government Chairman, noted that various forms of abuse on widows and their children was one of the major violation of human right.
“This day is set aside to focus on effective actions and advocacy on widows’ plight as well as their children around the world, who suffer from poverty, illiteracy, HIV/AIDS, conflict and socio-economic injustice.
“All the various forms of abuse on widows and their children constitute one of the most serious violations of human rights and obstacles towards development.
“From being subjected to gruesome funeral rites such as forced ‘purification’ through sexual violence, rape, being bequeathed to male relatives of their deceased husbands and many more are exerted inhumane treatment endured by widows.
“Today, as we celebrate Widows’ day, I want to reiterate Lagos zero-tolerance to all forms of violence against women and remind everyone that the Sanwo-Olu’s administration will not relent on its efforts to protect the right of all categories of womenfolk, including the widows.
“Several measures are in place to ensure the protection of women in the state through the Office of the Public Defender, Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, Citizen Mediation Centres and the Domestic Violence Unit of WAPA are many of the platforms available to you all,” she said.
She urged women, regardless of their status, to take advantage of the short and long term skills acquisitions programmes organised by the state government through WAPA, to be self-reliant.
Mrs Sanwo-Olu commended WAPA for aligning with the THEMES agenda of the Sanwo-Olu led government to ensure a sustainable environment for women in the state.
The Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Bolaji Dada, said that the challenges faced by widows were quite grievous and pathetic.
Mrs Dada noted that some of these challenges could only be rectified through access to good healthcare systems, qualitative education and decent form of livelihood free from violence and abuse.
“Many widows had to go through dehumanising experiences in the name of customs, others are sexually abused, forced into unwanted marriages and are cut off from inheriting their spouses’ property.
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“The widows in our society carry the brunt of economic deprivation, denial of rights, social and economic neglect, dis-empowerment and lack of access to shelter, health and other basic needs of life.
“The state government, in line with T.H.E.M.E.S agenda, is determined more than ever before, to protect the rights of the citizenry, especially women which also includes the widows in our society,” she said.
The commissioner said the beneficiaries were selected across the local government and local council development areas of the state.
One of the beneficiaries, Lara Yusuf, a blind widow, thanked the government for the initiative and appealed to the government to come up with more programmes that would help widows overcome some of their challenges.
“I am happy with what Lagos State has done for me and other widows here today, we hope they will continue to support more widows with such initiative,” she said.
Also, Olufumilayo Abdul, a member of the National Council of Women Societies of Nigeria, said the cash benefit to the widows was timely.
“I hope beneficiaries like me will channel the money to proper use and it is coming at the right time for us. We are grateful to the government.”