Saturday, June 23, 2018 4:40 pm
Mrs Jumai Ahmadu, the founder of Helpline Foundation for the Needy, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Abuja, on Saturday, said the foundation would give interest-free revolving loans to widows in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Ahmadu told newsmen at an event to mark the World Windows Day that the loan scheme was aimed at empowering widows to be self-reliant.
She urged governments at all levels to initiate policies and programmes that would address the plight of widows in the country, according to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN.
Ahmadu said that the foundation had identified 12 clusters in the six area councils of the FCT where the loans would be disbursed to widows.
According to her, no fewer than 5,000 widows will benefit from the scheme in the next three years.
She assured that the foundation would continue to initiate empowerment programmes for widows and the less privileged in the six area councils of Abuja.
She recalled that the foundation in 2017 empowered over 350 widows on various entrepreneurial skills.
On the significance of the day, Ahmadu said although accurate information on widowhood was limited, there were about 285 million widows around the world.
She said that of the number, 115 million of them live in abject poverty.
She added that “in the FCT, we have noticed with serious concern, how the figure of widows increase on a yearly basis.
“In 2017, we targeted 300 widows, but we ended up empowering 350 and this year, the figure has also increased considerably.
“Regrettably, once widowed, women in many parts of Nigeria are confronted with denial of inheritance and land rights.
“Widows are subjected to degrading and life-threatening mourning and burial rites and other forms of abuses in some parts of the country, and their children are often affected, both emotionally and economically.”
She explained that some widows who support their families were forced to withdraw children from school and such children turn to child labour or even beg for survival.
“We must as a nation start to change the narratives from abuse to empowerment,” she added.
Ahmadu, however, acknowledged that the task of widows’ empowerment should be the responsibility of both government and the society.
The World Widows Day, celebrated annually on June 23, is a UN ratified day of action to address the poverty and injustice faced by millions of widows and their dependents in many countries.