Hundred of widows from seven widow associations in Cameroon’s political capital-Yaounde, have received food and essential items as they commemorated the 13th International Widow’s Day.
The gift packs which contained rice, cooking oil, salt, onions, laundry soap, wheat flour and wash-hand basins were given out to about 1000 widows in a ceremony at the Yaoundé lll Council in Efoulan.
Clad in beautiful bright-colored uniform gowns, most of the women looked radiant and expectant as the gifts were brought to them.
The Mayor of the Yaoundé lll Council, Luc Owona brought the widows together for the second time to benefit from the philanthropic gesture. He said his council will always lend a helping hand to widows.
“The number of widows who turn out to receive these gifts is increasing as the years go by. I call on donor organizations to come on board because we need more resources to continue giving out such gifts.”
Women’s Affairs Minister, Prof. Marie Therese Abena Ondoa chaired the event which held on the theme “Psychological and Economic Empowerment of Widows : Stakes and Challenges.”
The Legal Assistance Guide
The 13th International Widow’s Day was a time for government to present the legal guide that will help widows fight discrimination, stigmatization, violence and other inhumane acts often brought to bear on them after the death of their husbands.
The guide which is the first of its kind, is an initiative of the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Family, initially presented during 12th International Widow’s Day on June 23, 2022.
In the course of the International Widow’s Day in 2023, the guide was presented in French, English, Ewondo, fufulde, Gomalah and pidgin English.
Known as “The Legal Assistance Guide for Widows,” the guide will promote and protect women’s rights, especially that of the widow. It also offers legal support to Widow’s support organizations.
The user-friendly guide in the form of question and answer, educates widows on legal matters around widowhood. It addresses the widow’s issues in the two legal systems; common and civil law.
A sustained fight in favor of widows
Women are often plunged into extreme poverty and suffering, exclusion, prejudice and subjected to harmful, inhumane and degrading widow rites, soon after the death of their husbands.
The Legal Assistance Guide is just one of government’s efforts to stop such practices and improve the living conditions of widows.
“It is important for widows to know their rights, and be autonomous. Today, we take a firm commitment to make the widow’s lives better after the death of their husbands,” Prof. Marie Therese Abena said.
Before coming up with the legal guide, the government has previously set up a framework for the protection of widows . This began with the ratification of international and regional instruments to ensure widow’s rights are protected. One of such is the Convention on all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, and the Rights of Women ( the Maputo protocol).
Government has also come up with a national policy to fight Gender Based Violence (GBV), especially violence perpetrated on widows. This adds to partnerships with traditional and religious leaders to raise awareness on widows’ rights.
Thanks to government efforts to end GBV in Cameroon, women can call the toll-free number 1523 to report cases of abuse and GBV.
Kathy Neba Sina