The Coordinator, Advocacy for Widows Empowerment Foundation (ADWEF), Mrs Bola Olarenwaju, has called for the creation of a ministry or department that will specifically focus on the welfare of widows in Nigeria.

Olarenwaju, also a widow, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in commemoration of the International Widows Day (IWD), on Thursday in Lagos.

NAN reports that the IWD is marked annually on June 23, to take a look at some of the issues affecting widows around the world and what must be done to safeguard and advance their rights.

She said that creation of the ministry had became necessary amidst the numerous challenges and denials faced by the widows.

“Widows are  just being abandoned by the society. The setting up a ministry that will care and speak for the widows will go a long way to ameliorate their sufferings and challenges,” Olarenwaju said.

She said that most of the empowerment programmes did not have positive impacts on the widows or their children because there were usually no financial support or grant attached.

According to her, the few supports and allocations from the government most times do not get to the targeted widows because there is no ministry or department to follow-up on them.

“Some widows are not working at the time their spouses died, which makes it more difficult for them to cope with the financial responsibilities of catering for their household.

“Some widows are evicted from their homes after the demise of the husband, and in most cases, the husband’s relatives end up collecting every property from the widow,” she said.

She said that some widows had been converted to agents for drug trafficking because of their vulnerable nature and equally due to the quest for money to care for themselves and their children.

She said, “If there is a ministry carved out to care, listen and look after the widows, it will make things a little easier for them.

“The objectives for most empowerment programmes for either the widows or their children are defeated because there is no department/ministry that specifically follow-up to get the needed grants.

“If a ministry is there, it will focus on the welfare of the widows; make their voices heard, protect their right, listen to their plights and proffer solutions.

“The spouse’s relatives have made life so miserable for some widows who refused to surrender to their selfish desires.

READ ALSO: UN Chief Expresses Shock Over Reports Of Civilian Massacres In Mali

“And the economic situation is not helping matter. Imagine a lady that did not go to school and suddenly her husband died. If everything is collected from her and she is thrown out to the street, what will become of her?”

Contributing, the Founder, Healing Heart Foundation, an NGO, Mrs Sophy Mbanisi, said that widows were in need of activities and funds that would provide the needed tools to help build the future of their children.

Mbanisi urged the society to extend their helping hands to the widows and their children, as many widows lacked the financial capability to cater and train their children.

“The society should be more generous to the widows. A lot of them are wallowing in poverty, with no money to feed or train their children.

“Just the way you adopt a child, equally you can adopt a widow; catering for her needs,” she said.

She, therefore, encouraged widows to develop competencies and believe in themselves; giving their children good parental upbringing despite the demise of their husbands. (NAN)