Rwanda, Gabon First Ladies plead for 115 million widows in poverty
The international community needs to redouble efforts aimed at aiding the millions of widows â€“ whose numbers keep growing amid a â€œmultiplication of conflicts around the world,â€ say the First Ladies of Rwanda and Gabon in a joint campaign.
Mrs Jeannette Kagame of Rwanda and Mrs Sylvia Bongo Odimba write in the Africa Review magazine that as conflicts escalate, â€œwomen are regrettably often the first victims.â€
â€œHaving lost their husbands, they are stigmatised and abused, even though they are at the heart of any possible reconstruction and development,â€ say the First Ladies.
June 23 is International Widows Day, and Mrs Jeannette Kagame was in Gabon where she took part in festivities to mark the day at the invitation of her counterpart. It has been celebrated globally since its adoption in December 2010 by the UN.
â€œLet us not forget that it took over 150 years after the adoption of an International Women’s Day, in the early 19th century, for most women in the world to gain the right to vote, to have access to quality education and to perform the same jobs as men,â€ they say in their letter.
â€œIt is therefore not surprising that the International Widows Day marks only the beginning of a long struggle for the protection of these women, unjustly dispossessed and driven from their home by their in-laws, as is still the case in so many countries, and particularly in Africa and Asia.â€
The First Ladies give staggering figures to illustrate their concern. Out of 258 million widows worldwide, more than 115 million live in extreme poverty; some face ostracism, violence, deprivation of their homes, disease or legal and social discrimination; and 81 million have been sexually abused, while 1.5 million of their children die before their fifth birthday.
For full version of the article by the First Ladies click here Africa Review