“My rights are being violated. Protect me!”
The above quote is from the Bible, the Christian Holy Book. It is found in Luke 18:3b (Message Bible) for those who will like to confirm. It was a story about a widow whose rights were been denied by her family and society at large. According to the story, the widow went to a Judge to help protect her rights as she saw the judge as the final hope. In the story, the Judge ignored the woman’s request for a long while until she wearied the Judge with her request.
It is World Population Day 2014 today and as it was over two thousand years ago, the situation of this special women population may still be the same. This is especially so in Africa and many other Developing Countries across the globe. The plight of widows has not significantly improved over the years. While women in urban areas are growing and enhancing their own capacity to stand tall in case of any eventualities, women in the remote rural areas cannot be said to enjoy same opportunities.
In some parts of Eastern and Northern Nigeria, widows’ plight is still a big issue on the frontline. It is noteworthy some individuals in the eastern Nigeria have gone to court to challenge, pray the court to nullify a cultural demand which sees widow as part of inheritance to be shared with the late husband’s property. This prayer/request has been granted in the Supreme Court of Nigeria. But there are other fundamental issues to be addressed. This includes what widows go through when the husband died. The experience with many widows especially if the family suspects the wife must be responsible for the death of their son is humiliating.
Some religious and cultural values are major detriments to widow empowerment. Known violence against women, right abuses are still being perpetuated in the name of religion and culture in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. We must agree things are gradually changing but we still have a long way to go. The population of widow also cannot also be said to be reducing. But why is it that proper attention has not been given to this population. Many Development Agencies, Civil Society groups’ effort advocating for rights of women had been focused on girl child, and other women rights issues without a focused energy on this population as it obtains in issues like maternal and child health, HIV/Aids, rapes etc.
Today, countless voices of widows in the rural areas within the developing countries are not receiving right attention. Some voices are not even allowed to be heard or else the women involved want to risk societal, cultural and traditional warlords’ wraths. There is now a renewed call on all the stakeholders to speak out. The men in such society should not turn their eyes to the other side as this abuse may one day touch their sisters, daughters etc. so today as we mark World population Day 2014 with the theme: investing in Youth and Public health’, the issue of widow must also been seen as very important. Here are the people we think can fight for the widows.
Development Agencies: Agencies like Amnesty International, United Nations Women, United Nations Children Education Fund, United Nations Population Funds and many others should begin to make widow’s right a burning issue.
Men: Several cultural and religious rites will not succeed if men do not indirectly put their weight behind them. Men in developing Countries need to stand by women in championing several causes militating against women folk.
Entertainment industry: In Nigeria, there have been several efforts to promote, create awareness as well as challenge this inhuman treatment meted to widow, but there is still a lot way to do. Entertainment is a key weapon which we can use to change human perspective and orientation. The industry must therefore become a crusader for this population.
Religious leaders: In most developing Countries, religion is a form of support for many citizens. People throng religious centres and see religious leaders as a force to be referred. Religious leaders in these countries must therefore be actively involved in this crusade.
Civil Society groups: This group is also vital. They stand for different causes they are passionate about. They must not then be silent by focusing on other non essential duties.