International Widows Day Blog (Fri 23rd June 2017)

by ACT

  • Posted on June 22, 2017

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International Widows Day (IWD) is a global day of focus for effective action to raise awareness and help widows and their children around the world who are suffering through poverty, illiteracy, HIV/AIDS, conflict and social injustice. The theme of this year’s day is ‘Never Alone’ – specifically emphasising on the loneliness of widows. Through no fault of their own many women lose husbands and fathers and continue to suffer the rest of their lives through stigma, discrimination and poverty. Many of these women and their children are malnourished, exposed to disease and subjected to extreme forms of deprivation.  The stigmatisation of widowhood is rife in many countries across the world, but particularly in Africa and Asia, and is often seen as a source of shame. Widows in some cultures are thought to be cursed and even associated with witchcraft – these misconceptions lead to many women being ostracised, abused and even killed.  Furthermore, the children of widows are often affected by the death of a ‘male bread winner’, both emotionally and economically. Withdrawal of children from school is common to help support the family. The daughters, in particular, are subject to further deprivation, increasing their vulnerability to abuse, because of poverty.

At ACT, one of our main programmes is empowering widows in Africa. We support needy widows by educating their children, which gives them relief from their financial burdens and give their children an opportunity in life. Furthermore, we provide training in business and whole life skills to enable them generate a sustainable income so that they can look after their families and educate their children. In places where we work, we bring the widows together to form a community so that they can meet with other women in similar situations and help each other. Training in inheritance rights, health awareness and business skills enable the women to become more self-sufficient and independent allowing them to establish themselves and their families. This has led to the formation of cooperatives and small businesses which not only provide work for the women but also contributes to the local economy.

Fathi Sawadogo (Burkina Faso) 

Fathi discovered her gift as a trainer in spring 2008 when she attended the ACT Widows training seminar in Ouagadougou with 33 other widows. The women were encouraged to think through the

Fathi Sawadogo (Burkina Faso)

concept of entrepreneurship, to discover their talents and how to develop them. Fathi went back home full of hope and fresh ideas but had no clear indication about what she was good at. Once back in her village, she started spreading the word of her new knowledge. She realised that not only did she enjoy sharing her knowledge but she was also very good at it and received positive feedback from the learners. Other women were enjoying her talk and were willing to listen to her. Having heard about her work training other women, ACT invited her to teach during another of the 14 business skills seminar organized every year. The participants highly appreciated Fathi’s training approach. After this, ACT took her on as trainer for the ACT Widows Seminars providing training across communities in Burkina Faso and earning an income to support her three children.

The ACT programme is assisting widows to move out of poverty and become productive member of their communities. To find out how you can support widows and children in Africa, please click here.

On this International Widows Day you can help to spread awareness using the hashtags: #IWD, #InternationalWidowsDay, #WidowsDay on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn


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