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Govt commits to empowerment of widows

23 April 2014, 08:44Augustine Osayande

Abuja - The Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development is hopeful the Widows’ Empowerment Scheme would address the plight of such women in the country.

Speaking at the flag off ceremony in Abuja, the Minister, Hajiya Zainab Maina, said government is committed to ensuring the betterment of lives of widows.

"We must ensure that their vulnerability, issues and concerns are not only positively addressed but also enjoy the rights and social protection they deserve. They must be encouraged to participate in economic activities and other activities geared towards improving their status and full integration into national development."

The minister observed that available statistics indicate that women make up roughly half of the Nigerian population and that the number of widows had been steadily increasing over the years.

She stressed that situations of poverty, widowhood rites, and lack of access to services and resources was worsening their plight.

"Widowhood may deprive women of their home, agricultural land, assets and sometimes even their children," Maina said.

The minister added that appropriate legal and policy frameworks is urgently require to protect the rights and enhance the livelihood of widows in the country.

She disclosed that the Violence against Persons Bill had been passed in the House of Representatives and was currently receiving positive attention in the Senate.

"I would like to encourage Nigerian Lawmakers at the federal and state levels, to continue in their stride to legislate against all oppressive, injurious and degrading widowhood practices."

She advised beneficiaries of the scheme to ensure that they grow their economic ventures to the next level and urged them to continue to be strong and believe in themselves and their capacities to pull through their situation.

She also commended MTN Foundation, a brainchild of the communications company, for its partnership with the Ministry on the successful take off of the scheme.

- CAJ News

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