By Job Osazuwa
Chief executive officer, Beracah Economic Empowerment Foundation and Beracah Widows Arise, Mrs. Maria Ifeoma Emmanuel, has said that widows deserve a better deal, especially at times like this when the economy is shrinking and insecurity is ravaging the country from the Atlantic coastline to the fringes of the Sahara. Explaining that a trained and informed widow is an empowered widow, Emmanuel said widows should be assisted in every material particular so that they can live happily and satisfactorily.
Emmanuel also challenged widows to be hardworking and resourceful, arguing that widowhood was not license to go cap in hand begging for favours.
Emmanuel, a widow, said: “The dream of an average African girl whether in school or not is to get married and to be cared for by her husband.
“The belief of most women being solely dependent on men after marriage is a major reason why widowhood is much of a societal challenge as this group of people are highly vulnerable.
“The issue of vulnerability of widows is to be discussed with young girls and while a woman is still in marriage, if we must proffer a permanent solution, not when a man dies, she will discover his uncle is named his next of kin. This gives room for ill treatment from the husband’s family or leaving the widow and her children at the mercy of her in-laws.
“There must be a proper orientation on widowhood; it should not be shied away from. It is a reality of life, so women can always position themselves for eventualities.
“It is the duty of the husband to encourage his wife for an improved life, economically and socially.
“Taking a look at statistics, you discover that hardship among widows is mostly prevalent in Africa because African men have a complex and sense of insecurity with their wives. Some believe, if a woman is allowed to work, another man will go after her. And if she is rich, she will no longer be submissive and he will lose headship of the family.
“Truth be told, love diminishes when you are the only one providing for the family. I know a lot of women who are giants in the economic world and there is so much love, peace and respect in their homes.
“A Ghanaian widow of a fallen hero, in her tribute, said that she’s grateful to her husband for preparing her for the fate that befell her by ensuring she got her master’s degree and further encouraged her to enrol for her PhD to be able to assist him in building the home.
“As a widow, I do not proscribe to widows living the rest of their lives begging after the demise of their husbands. It’s not possible to have a sustainable economic empire from begging or relying on donations. Remember that in seeking an assistance as a widow for sustainable economic development, you have a greater role to play in its success.
“You must come to terms with the reality of your loss; see your predicament as the beginning of a new phase; allow your responsibilities inspire your zeal to forge ahead; you must define your capabilities and, where there are none, get trained. A widow must build her personal development and be associated with people she can learn from.
“It’s only when you have all this help geared towards empowering that you can be profitable or else you’ll end in perpetual lack and want, never standing on your feet.
“The truth remains, as a widow, no one owes you. Everything you get from people is a favour. God admonishes mankind to care for widows, which is evident in the Holy Book. It’s also not a license for begging. Rather, He positions widows to also be relevant in the society.
“There are different instances where God used widows to be a blessing to people. A very good example is prophet Elijah who was accommodated and fed by the widow of Zeraphat.
“Suffice it to say widows have obligations to care for people and impact their world. So, remaining a beggar can never bring you to fulfilling God’s purpose for your life.
“Widowhood actually does not stop you from dreaming big; it is the beginning of another phase.
“If wisdom is applied in understanding the position you occupy in God’s heart, God’s favour towards you, if harnessed, will flow through you to married women living in denial and abject poverty.
“Treating an ailment from it’s root can only bring permanent healing. Address the challenge of widowhood by raising empowered generation of young girls. When the unexpected happens, with little assistance, they can stand as pillars for their children in the absence of the breadwinner.”