A total of 103 widows have received various lifelines courtesy of Hope For Women in Nigeria Initiative, (HOFOWEM) – a Pet Project of the wife of Lagos State Governor, Mrs Bolanle Ambode.
The various supports ranged from financial assistance, equipment such as refrigerators, deep freezers, photo cameras, tailoring machines as well as vocational skills that will transform them from being the most vulnerable members of the society to economic stakeholders.
During the empowerment programme which came against the backdrop of the recently celebrated 2017 International Widows Day; Mrs Ambode said widows needed to be supported, hence the move by the foundation to empower them for self-reliance towards earning regular personal income.
“We have carefully studied the situation and discovered that this category of persons are the hardest hit by social circumstances around them; this is the reason our Foundation is focusing on the children, women, widows, the youth and the aged women, some days back, the world celebrated the 2017 edition of the International Widow’s Day and to commemorate this, HOFOWEM decided to raise the stakes, packaging this programme for 103 widows still in their active years, this is to help them have means of income,” she observed.
The Governor’s wife said the foundation decided to enlist the relatively younger widows for training in vocational skills of their choice, to go with monthly allowance and would be supported with business equipment upon graduation.
She added that the other categories of women would get equipment support or financial assistance to expand their businesses.
“This arrangement is designed to guarantee for you a stable means of income, to help meet your needs, those of your children, as well as your loved ones. It is hoped that this will bring more self-confidence for you, joy into your hearts and smiles to your faces,” she remarked.
The Governor’s wife appreciated the Bank of Industry and Power Oil for collaborating with the foundation, as well as individuals and corporate supporters, stressing that the foundation was working to complement children and women-friendly programs of the state government.
The Chief Executive Officer of HOFOWEM, Ms Oyefunke Adeleke, noted that several challenges were facing widows, promising that the foundation would continue to seek succor for them as it had done in the past.
“At HOFOWEM, we believe in putting smiles on the faces of those we come across and this we would continue to do, especially with the less privileged in our society, everybody deserves somebody to look forward to tomorrow and that is who we are at HOFOWEM, providing the shoulder to lean on” Ms Adeleke reiterated.
The Director, Lagos State Office of the Public Defender, (OPD), Mrs Omotola Rotimi is while educating the women on their rights under the law, Mrs Omotola Rotimi, listed various forms of social infractions and widow abuses against them contrary to the law, adding that they should always approach relevant agencies of the state government, for legal assistance to seek redress at no cost to them.
“The greatest weapon of war against all forms of abuse is speaking out; once a victim develops the courage to speak out and seek help, the problem is almost solved, this is because without the victim there will be no war to fight, women should be free to approach the Office of the Administrator-General and Public Trustee; Directorate of Citizen’s Rights; Office of the Public Defender; Family Court; Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation; the Police or call emergency numbers 08036256457, 07032165181, 112 or 767,” she said.
The Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs Lola Akande also challenged women to take advantage of the various Skill Acquisition Centres in the state and the financial support to be provided by the Bank of Industry at zero interest.
Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mrs Celestina Osundiya, commended Mrs Ambode for what she described as her thoughtfulness, kindness to improve the welfare of the less privileged persons.