Nigerian leading company calls for widow´ s justice and support on International Widows Day


Published by: Lekoil

“As we commemorate International Widows Day, I find myself reflecting deeply on the challenges faced by widows, a cause that is profoundly personal to me. Growing up, I witnessed firsthand the struggles and injustices that widows in my family endured. These experiences have shaped my understanding and fueled my commitment to advocate for their rights and well-being.

For example, my mother was widowed for 11 years before she passed away. This personal experience has given me a deep insight into the profound challenges widows face, challenges that are often compounded by cultural norms, legal barriers, and economic inequalities.

The pain of widowhood became shockingly clear to me when my father passed away in 1999. Within less than 24 hours of his burial, some family members showed up at our house, demanding his belongings—his possessions, his property, and even the car I had bought for him. This Mercedes-Benz sedan was a gesture to replace a car he had sold to support our family. These events left me deeply troubled and profoundly impacted my understanding of the vulnerability widows often face.

My parents had built their lives together over 46 years. My mother worked as an educator and later started three successful businesses. She achieved so much in our community, becoming a high chief and raising successful children, including an ambassador, a doctor of geology, a professor of medicine, and more. Despite her remarkable accomplishments, she was partially disinherited, a fact that continues to confound me. If someone of her stature could face such adversity, what about those widows who are not aware of their rights, or do not haveresources, or a voice?

The scale of the issue is staggering. There are at least 258 million widows in the world, over 100 million of whom live in poverty. Nigeria’s census claims that we are home to 3 million widows, however estimates by the experts in the field indicate that widows could number near 15 million. This stark disparity underscores the urgency of addressing this real and pressing issue.
For me, supporting widows is more than making a donation and walking
away. It requires unwavering, consistent efforts to dismantle discriminatory practices and ensure widows receive the support, respect, and rights they deserve. This includes advocating for policy changes, raising awareness, and partnering with organizations like the Global Fund for Widows to implement effective solutions.

Honouring International Widows Day: A call for justice and support - Olalekan “Lekan” Akinyanmi

Honouring International Widows Day: A call for justice and support – Olalekan “Lekan” Akinyanmi

The Global Fund for Widows (GFW), founded by Heather Ibrahim-Leathers, is an international nonprofit focused on empowering widows through financial inclusion via Widows’ Savings & Loan Associations (WISALAs). These micro-banks help widows start businesses, increase savings, improve health and nutrition, and escape poverty. GFW also educates widows on their legal rights by certifying them as Community Paralegals and advocates for widows’ rights at the UN, US Congress, House of Lords, and national governments. Under Ibrahim-Leathers’ leadership, GFW aims to improve widows’ lives, challenge social norms, and empower them to live with dignity and positively impact their communities.

International Widows Day serves as a poignant reminder of the injustices widows face worldwide. It is a day to honor their resilience and strength in the face of adversity. It is also a call to action—a call to stand in solidarity with widows everywhere, to amplify their voices, and to work towards a future where no widow is marginalized or forgotten.

As we mark this day, I urge policymakers, governments, communities, and individuals to join me in advocating for the rights of widows. Let us work together to create a more just and equitable world, where widows are empowered to rebuild their lives and contribute meaningfully to society.
Let us continue to work tirelessly until every widow receives the justice, dignity, and respect they deserve.”

Olalekan “Lekan” Akinyanmi is Chairman of Cambridge Growth Partners (CGP) and Chief Executive of Lekoil Nigeria Limited, a CGP Portfolio Company.

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