By Justina Auta
The Federal Government has vowed to jail or fine any person engaged in any form of discrimination, violence and harmful traditional practices against widows in the country.
Mrs Monilola Udoh, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs (FMoWA), gave the warning during community grassroots sensitisation on Friday in Karu, FCT, as part of the International Widow’s Day (IWD) celebration.
Udoh reiterated the commitment of the government in accordance with the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act 2005 towards ensuring that human rights of widows are protected and promoted.
“Any person who subjects a widow to harmful practices commits an offence and will be sent to prison for two years or fined N500,000 or both.
“This is a warning to communities that practice all forms of discrimination against widows.
‘The law also prohibits any person who supports someone to commit the offence. That person will also be liable to N200,000 fine or imprisonment.
“Any person that receives or assists someone to commit the offence will spend six months in prison or fined N100,000 or both,” she warned.
She said the ministry will educate women, especially widows, on access to a fair share of their inheritance, land and productive resources; pensions and social protection that are not based on marital status alone.
Udoh said the 2023 theme, ‘’Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality”, highlights a gender responsive approach to innovation, technology and digital education to increase the widow’s awareness, empowerment, rights and civic engagements.
“The Widows Hub Africa Initiative also with the Ministry is creating awareness on innovation and technology for gender equality which aligns with this year’s theme.
“This activity is to enable Widows have access to information on the importance of innovation and technology in doing business.”
The Permanent Secretary also revealed that 300 widows will be trained on using orange fleshed sweet potatoes, while 200 others will also be given some palliatives to reduce their social and economic burden.
Also, Hajiya Lami Adamu-Lau, National President, National Council for Women Societies (NCWS), represented by Ms Nnenna Emedolibe, encouraged widows to continue to strive hard to improve their status and that of their dependent children.
Also, District Head, Peshe-Karu, Atnadu Shanyibwa, expressed appreciation to the government for its support to widows, assuring them of their commitment towards protecting their rights.
Mrs Gloria Samuel, a widow, urged the government to protect widows rights, especially that area concerning deceased spouses’ properties, as well as punish those who engage in harmful practices against them to serve as a deterrent to others.
“They should make a law that will protect all the widows across Nigeria. I encourage widows,, especially the young ones, not to give up,” she said.
Mrs Amina Musa, widow and mother of six, said the support from the government will reduce their economic hardship and encourage them to strive hard. (NAN)