G2 Foundation calls for stronger state actions to protect and enhance the rights of widows/widowers

By thefourlens.com

Kumasi, April 26, 2024 

The G2 Foundation, a vulnerable welfare oriented organization is calling for stronger actions from government and policymakers to safeguard widows/widowers from all forms of discriminations and help them to enjoy their fundamental human rights. 

The non-governmental organization (G2 Foundation), seeks the socioeconomic rights and well-being of the vulnerable in society including widows and widowers, orphans, persons with some form of disabilities and the aged.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Foundation, Mrs Gifty Nyarko Karikari indicated that some archaic customs, traditions and cultural practices imposed on widows/widowers are inhumane and need to be streamlined or removed. 

Speaking to thefourlens.com news  in an interview in Kumasi, the Ashanti Region, she said discriminatory laws which rob widows/widowers of property, income, shelter, opportunity and social benefits must be struck out to help protect human rights worldwide. 

Mrs Nyarko Karikari observed that widows may be subject to stereotypes, prejudices and harmful traditional practices with severe consequences as well as face restrictions on their dress, diet, and mobility for a year after the death of a husband, all in the name of tradition and custom.

In some cases, she stated many widows/widowers are subjected to ritual cleansing practices involving forced sex or bodily scarring that can have life-threatening health consequences. 

According to Mrs Nyarko Karikari, widowhood stage is a journey of indescribable, because she never knew the pains of widows that much until the passing of her late husband.  

She stated that sometimes widows are forcibly ‘passed on’ to or ‘inherited’ by a successor or next of kin, such as the brother or other relative of the deceased husband which she wouldn’t have gone for on her own will, but for the sake of forfeiting her share of hard-earned properties and fear of being traumatised, she must succumb to this barbaric practice. 

These situations, Mrs Nyarko Karikari observed can deny the widow or widowers of their rights to safety, bodily autonomy, justice and dignity in life after the loss of their partner. 

Again, some may be stripped of their land, evicted from their home, or even separated from their children and may be denied access to inheritance, bank accounts and credit, which can have significant financial impacts on themselves, their children and future generations.  

Such traditions and customs, Mrs Nyarko Karikari realized impose inner fears on the widow/widower and prevent her/him from speaking out on painful treatments they are going through, instead of helping to build their inner strength, peace and protect them from public ridicules after their spouses are no more.

There is a critical need for African nations and societies to adopt social and economic reforms to improve widows/widowers access to inheritance, land, pensions and other social protections and also advocate for the meaningful inclusion of widow/widowers in all areas that positively impact them. 

Such interventions include Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) training platforms where women/men who lost their spouses, family, and loved ones could be able to participate fully in peacebuilding and reconciliation processes. 

In her opinion, state institutions such as the Parliament, Gender Ministry and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the Media and other stakeholders should ensure such practices are eradicated and criminalised completely, Mrs Nyarko Karikari emphasized. 

She stressed social stigmas that lead to harmful and violent practices against widows/widowers must be taken up through empowering widows/widowers to support themselves and their families and live with dignity by ensuring access to education and training opportunities, decent work and deserving salary. 

For instance, some traditions demand that a widow or widower sleep in the same room for a night with the corpse of their husband without considering the psychological and health implications, she worried. 

Mrs Nyarko Karikari reiterated the state should support international efforts and advocacies to uphold and expand the rights of widows as enshrined in international laws and conventions. 

On child widows, she said young girls below 18 years who are given to old men to marry and sooner becomes widows experience multiple rights violations and face life-long impacts from premature marriage and widowhood. 

Mrs Nyarko Karikari said it is therefore vital for National Action Plans for the peace and security of women and girls so that their needs are addressed for them to have access to restorative justice, support, pensions and resettlement. 

She recalled the feeling of losing your spouse to death is extremely painful, citing “from experiencing trauma to gaining emotional stability, because the life of a widow has so many ups and downs which shifts her whole life to another direction”.

The widowhood trauma and the shocks don’t only last for a moment but can have a major impact on their lives because that is the time when they are fighting the hardest battle in their mind. 

In the period of loneliness, Mrs Nyarko Karikari noted that widows/ widowers go through a mental state of isolation, ostracization including intra-communication questions like who she/he would share problems with, who would hold their hand firm in the up and downs of life and who can they trust again?. 

She told this writer that a comprehensive and coordinated strategies including legal reforms, economic empowerment, awareness campaigns and the provision of essential resources are therefore necessary to addressing these multifaceted challenges. 

Mrs Nyarko Karikari was optimistic that the collaborative implementation of these strategies can promote gender equity, reduce poverty, and enhance the lives of widows in Ghana and Africa as a whole. 

She emphasized that changing some cultural norms, improving access to education and economic opportunities as well as strengthening social protection systems are crucial steps towards creating a more inclusive and equitable society for widows. 

Mrs Nyarko Karikari therefore encouraged women who assumed the role as housewives without any meaningful economic venture to put an end to that role, saying, if the women should be a housewives, then their spouses must pay them to be financially independent. 

To her, “when your spouse passes away and you are not financially stable, the children will resort to other social vices and that would worsen the pains and agony of the widow”.



Writer’s email: ttchrietoph1@gmail.com

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