Saturday, February 26, 2011

The 3 Ds of Widowhood in Nigeria

The 3 Ds of Widowhood in Nigeria
A panel discussion offered by WiDO at 55th CSW parallel NGO sessions at the Church Center building informed the participants about the prevalence of many cruel and harsh cultural practices in the villages of Nigeria when women/young girls become widows. Dr. Eleanor Nwandinobi described these practices as the 3 Ds of widowhood that clearly reflect the status of women: dethronement, defacement and disinheritance. Dethronement refers to women loosing their status in the community once her husband dies and symbolically must sit on the floor. Women suffer defacement as the cultural practice of shaving the hair off the widow’s head is still practiced regardless of the pain and suffering it may inflict. Thirdly she looses all rights to her husband’s property and becomes the property of his brother. Additionally there is no access to education or any kind of training that would empower them and help them become self sufficient. NGOs such as WIDO are working hard to fight against these deeply entrenched cultural practices but there is a greater need for strict enforcement of laws by the government. Mere legislations do not help the cause of women. “It is a journey of a thousand miles” mentioned one of the panelists acknowledging the long road ahead. There have been few success stories along the way to encourage the grass roots efforts of NGOs. The panelists advocated a holistic approach including educational, financial, social empowerment.
More information:
Session: “Rising Above Socio-Cultural Inhibitions: Key to Empowering Women and girls in Africa”
Date: Friday, February 25, 2011. Place: Church Center for the United Nations.

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