• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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Why Nigeria needs to tackle challenges facing widows – Seinye Lulu-Briggs

Why Nigeria needs to tackle challenges facing widows – Seinye Lulu-Briggs

Despite living in a globalised world, Nigerian women, particularly widows, still face challenges that erode their right to life and living.

Considering these obnoxious practices against widows that still take place despite the modern age and laws in favour of women, Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs,

While speaking recently at an advocacy event organised by the African Women Lawyers Association of Nigeria (AWLA), Rivers State chapter, in commemoration of the United Nations 2023 International Widows Day, Seinye noted that Nigerian widows are mothers, someone’s daughter and sister and hence deserve better treatment by society and all.

She commended AWLA, which is a partner of O.B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation in protecting widows’ human rights.
At the event hosted by Kelvin Ngozi Anugwo, the Eze Ekpeye, in Ekpeye Ethnic Nation, Ahoada-East Local Government Area, and attended by hundreds of widows and other critical stakeholders from across Rivers State, Lulu-Briggs said she had experienced many atrocities since becoming a widow and understood their deprivations.
She reiterated the foundation’s commitment to partnering with AWLA to continue providing free legal services to widows and vulnerable citizens across Nigeria and urged everyone to support their rights.

“We acknowledge their continuing vulnerability and the risks they face. We must act urgently- Nigeria is said to be home to about 15 million of the world’s 258 million widows. Today, we renew our commitment to creating a more inclusive and equal world for all in tangible ways that bring dignity to widows and their dependents,” Lulu-Briggs said.

Commenting on this year’s theme, ‘Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality’, she said that innovation and technology can be transformative forces in the lives of widows.

“Technology has the potential to empower widows, create awareness about their plight, and create opportunities for social change. By harnessing it, we can propel gender equality forward, ensuring that widows and all women can access the resources, support, and opportunities they deserve.

“We know technology can readily be leveraged in our fight for widows’ rights. With funding from the O.B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation, the Rivers State Widows Legal Assistance Toll-free Helpline 0800 0023 111 was launched three years ago as part of AWLA’s work to eradicate harmful widowhood practices in Nigeria. It has been a game-changer, ensuring that widows across Rivers State can access free legal aid 24/7 free-of-charge. It has already connected over 5,000 widows to legal assistance!”

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Lulu-Briggs further urged people to develop innovative approaches to connect widows and their dependents to networks and platforms that offer access to income generation, skills development and entrepreneurial opportunities.

“We should be thinking about how to connect widows to networks and platforms that offer access to income-generation, skills development and entrepreneurial opportunities. We know that technology can provide widows access to financial services, enabling them to build sustainable livelihoods and economic independence. Mobile banking, online marketplaces, and digital payment systems can eliminate barriers, such as distance and discrimination, that widows often face when trying to secure financial stability for them and their families,” she said further.

Lulu-Briggs warned that innovation and technology are not gender-neutral; hence, “It is crucial to ensure that widows and women are active participants in developing technological solutions. By involving them at every stage, we must endeavour to create inclusive and user-friendly innovations catering to their needs and aspirations.”
She thanked Eze Anugwo for the warm reception and for hosting the advocacy programme in his kingdom.

“I appreciate the warm reception to your beautiful kingdom. Thank you for standing with the rest of the world today to champion widows’ rights on International Widows Day 2023; to register your commitment to promoting inclusivity, innovation and technology for transformative change through this important advocacy event,” she said.
Earlier, Hilda Desmond-Ihekarie, AWLA’s coordinator in Rivers State, sensitized the widows and other guests to the robust laws now in place to protect widows in the state.

She asked widows not to keep silent for their oppressors. “Speak out and call for help as your traducers thrive on your silence. You are not alone. Let us share the burden you bear to help ease your pain.”
The Eze Kelvin Ngozi Anugwu, thanked the foundation and AWLA for visiting his kingdom and assured of his commitment to protecting the rights of widows.

Representatives of the Nigeria Women’s Medical Association and Nigeria Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) took turns to sensitize the widows about their rights.
Items, including bags of rice, beverages, Ankara materials, and t-shirts, among others, were given to the appreciative widows at the event, featuring a free medical outreach.