Mrs. Okorocha, Asugha, others laud Alakija on “The Cry of Widows and Orphans”
Recently, the African woman billionaire and founder of Rose of Sharon Foundation, Folorunsho Alakija formerly presented her book, “The Cry of Widows and Orphans” which also was part of the activities to mark the 5thyear anniversary of her foundation.
The book which chronicles on the plight of widows and suggests recommendations for formulation of policies that would help and promote the course of widows got launched at NIIA in Lagos.
Written for the purpose of advocacy, Folorunso Alakija stated that the book was written to inform and advocate the many challenges widows and orphans face, also in line with her foundation's objective since five years ago, which she is targeting to push for the national and international legislation worldwide.
In her words: “The interesting thing about the book is that it does not talk about Nigerian widows alone or African widows only. It talked about widows all over the world and how to empower them. The book is like a wake-up call to all the widows all over the world. Remember wherever there are human beings, husbands die, parents die, and when they die, they leave behind widows and orphans. Who would cater for them? If we all are busy and ignore them, what is going to happen to them? Who is now going to take care of them?
“If we fail to do something, it comes back to the society. I mean the same society we all levy. But the fact remains that widows go through a lot of trauma and that is what the book is all about. The plights of widows, the rigours they are subjected to in the name of traditions and cultures. Some of them are mandated to drink water that was used to bathe the corpse of their husbands. If a man dies suddenly without much sickness his widow is suspected to be the culprit. Then she is mandated to drink water used to bathe the corpse to prove her innocence. This is unfair, drinking such alone is a curse and it is written in the Bible,” she said.
Furthermore, she stressed that widows especially in Nigeria have no specific policies aimed at addressing their challenges. In spite of the economic, emotional and psychological problems associated with widowhood practices in many Nigerian, African and other developing societies, Alakija added that what exist is a number of gender policies at local, national and international levels that addresses gender inequality and discrimination among women generally.
To make it worse, the Group Managing Director of The Rose of Sharon Group which consists of The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions Limited and Digital Reality Prints Limited and the Executive Vice Chairman of Famfa Oil Limited, Folorunsho Alakija emphasized that existing legislation is often silent on widows' rights, adding that orphans are subjected to life without love.
Lamenting the plight of widows, the Imo state First Lady, Nneoma Nkechi Rochas Okorocha who was also present to support Alakija charged that the scourge widows face upon the demise of their husbands, and some other evil acts must stop.
The founder of SNARP, a non-government organization that aims at alleviating poverty and support of widows in Imo State, Mrs. Okorocha further urged affluent Nigerian women to follow Alakija's footsteps, even as she lauded her courageous effort in the war against the discrimination of widows and orphans in the society.
While pointing out, the Special Assistant to the Imo state governor on Lagos/Southwest Liaison, Hon. Lisa Asugha stressed that carrying bible every Sunday to church is good, that but it is not pure religion. According to her, “pure religion is to alleviate the plight of widows and orphans just as the scripture says. We do so through the creation and execution of programmes that could give or tender financial independence and educational opportunities to widows, their children and orphans”.
The book launch however attracted stakeholders on issues that affect widows and orphans (Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Civil Society Organizations (Coos), Senators and Legislators, Women's Organizations, Government agencies and Government ministries, Wives of Executive Governors, Promoters/partners and friends of the Foundation and Philanthropists.