Africa World

Wed 10 July 2024:

Widows across Africa have new hope with the proposal of a new continental empowerment fund.

The initiative was proposed by Kenya’s second lady, Dorcas Rigathi, during an inaugural Africa Widows Summit held in Zanzibar.

The fund seeks to address socio-economic challenges faced by millions of widows on the continent.

The Widows Empowerment Fund in Africa will initially be funded with a grant of 10 million Naira ($27,300) provided by the Abdul Samad Rabiu Initiative for Africa (ASR Africa). Going forward, African governments will contribute to the fund to ensure its sustainability and to expand its reach to more widows across the continent​

David Matinde from the Mathare Light Centre, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to uplifting women in the Mathare slums in Nairobi through skill development, training, mentorship and economic empowerment avenues, hailed the program.

“This initiative is a game-changer for many women who have been struggling in silence,” Matinde told Anadolu. “Providing them with financial resources and support will enable these women to rebuild their lives and become self-sufficient. Our goal at Mathare Light Centre has always been to empower women, and this program aligns perfectly with our mission at a wider scale.”

“Through skill development and mentorship, we can help these women unlock their potential and create sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their families. The new fund will open up even more opportunities for women in the Mathare slums and beyond,” he added.

Giving hope

Dorcas Mwangi, a widowed 46-year-old tailor in the slums, expressed disbelief at the support that may be coming her way.

“I don’t believe it — that people would care. For so long, we have struggled on our own. This fund, if at all true, gives us hope that things can change,” she said.

Mary Kamau, a 52-year-old farmer from Kiambu, who has been managing a small farm to support her family, also shared her thoughts about the proposal.

“This initiative will change lives. It means that we can finally have the resources to improve our farming techniques and increase our productivity,” she said.

The summit last month in Zanzibar brought together more than 800 widows from African nations, including Nigeria, Cameroon, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

Rigathi emphasized the need for organized support and economic opportunities for widows at the summit.

“Widows need empowerment and opportunities, not sympathy,” she said, urging the African Union to establish a fund that would allow women to borrow without the usual bureaucratic hurdles.

‘More needs to be done’

Aisha Nabukeera, a counseling psychologist at the Hope for Widows Project in Uganda, told Anadolu that in addition to the widows’ fund, “more needs to be done.”

“There is a need for other coordinated strategies to address the unique multifaceted challenges facing widows in Africa,” she said. “The widows’ fund is timely and necessary to close gaps, including economic empowerment of husbandless women and the reformation of legal frameworks which enhance the advancement of widows and alleviate their hardships arising out of the death of their husbands.”

“It is also important to have in place collaborative implementation of interventions and strengthen systems that promote parity all over the continent,” added Nabukeera.

Hajara Mutetsi, a volunteer at Empower and Care Organization in Uganda, told Anadolu that the fund will go a long way to reduce poverty and enhance the lives of widows in African countries.

“The widows’ fund is a welcome milestone because there are many women in African societies who, after losing their husbands, are denied the right to inherit what rightly belongs to them, resulting in a long-term fight for their basic rights and dignity,” she said.

“Such harmful traditional practices negatively impact the well-being of widows in many ways, including the inability to access proper health care, decent accommodation and lack of social support,” she said. “The widows’ fund is a great milestone in safeguarding and advancing the dignity of women who have lost their husbands.”

-Source: AA







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