Widows Have Unique Challenges, Need Our Help, Says Dr. Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs

…Gives Out Food, Clothing, Cash to Widows in Ekpeyeland

Chairman of the O.B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation, Dr Mrs Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs, has appealed for support for widows, noting that there’s a need for collective action to improve their lives. Speaking at an advocacy event the Foundation organized alongside its partner, the African Women Lawyers Association of Nigeria (AWLA), Rivers State, to mark the United Nations 2023 International Widows Day on Friday, June 23, Dr. Lulu-Briggs said widows have unique challenges and deserved all the help they can get.International Widows Day, observed annually on June 23, aims to raise awareness about widows’ struggles and promote measures to empower them.

The tireless champion of women’s rights highlighted the vulnerabilities of widows, especially after their spouse’s passing and emphasized the need for comprehensive support systems and increased access to resources to help widows rebuild their lives.She said there were still many rivers to cross as millions of widows subjected to abuse and deprivation called for help.

Dr Lulu-Briggs said, “This annual observance is a poignant reminder of the challenges widows face globally. It sheds light on the struggles, discrimination, and social marginalization many widows endure, often forgotten or overlooked by society. Today we are raising awareness about the injustices and struggles faced by the 258 million widows and their dependents worldwide. More importantly, we advocate for more action to tackle their challenges and uplift them.”While calling for more action and collaboration between stakeholders to create policies and programs that address the unique struggles faced by widows, Lulu-Briggs emphasized that a society’s accurate measure lies in how it treats its most vulnerable members.

She said, “We are here today to plead but in very strong terms that these obnoxious practices stop. We pray that His Majesty-in-council, the custodians of our traditions and culture, become champions of widows’ rights. Having lost their husbands, may it known that widows in Ekpeye Kingdom have the ears of their King and his chiefs.”

Addressing the 2023 International Widow’s Day theme, ‘Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality’,  Dr Lulu-Briggs disclosed how the Foundation and AWLA had been deploying this.  She said, “With funding from the O.B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation, the Rivers State Widows Legal Assistance Toll-free Helpline 0800 0023 111 was launched three years ago as part of AWLA’s work to eradicate harmful widowhood practices in Nigeria. It has been a game-changer, ensuring that widows across Rivers State can access legal aid 24/7, free of charge. It has already connected over 5,000 widows to legal assistance!.”

She reiterated that the plight of widows should concern all Nigerians, saying, “We should be thinking about how to connect widows to networks and platforms that offer access to income-generation, skills development and entrepreneurial opportunities that build sustainable livelihoods and economic independence. What are we doing to leverage or to deploy these innovations to raise public awareness and knowledge about the plight of widows? And what citizens can do to change mindsets and practices, amplify their voices, to share their stories (not just of setbacks but also of triumphs)? What more can we do to challenge the stereotypes and stigmas that hinder progress in the struggle for widows’ rights?”

Dr Seinye Lulu- Briggs further shared stories of widows she had encountered through her charitable work, highlighting their resilience in the face of adversity.

She explained that by offering financial assistance, vocational training, and emotional support, society can empower widows to regain their independence and contribute positively to their communities.

The Coordinator of AWLA in Rivers State, Dr. Hilda Desmond-Ihekaire, expressed satisfaction that the body had impacted thousands of widows positively, adding that its partnership with the O.B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation allows it to render free legal services to all widows in Rivers State.”

The loss of a partner is devastating. Conflicts worldwide claim many male lives, so it behoves us to take care of the widows they left behind, and that is why we are here today with the full support of our partner, O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation”, she said.

Dr. Desmond-Ihekaire assured the widows that their rights are guaranteed by some laws enacted by the Rivers State House of Assembly and the National Assembly. She enjoined widows facing discrimination to come to the AWLA office in Port Harcourt for free legal services.

The Eze Ekpeye Logbo III, Eze (Amb) Sir Kelvin Ngozi Anugwo, in whose palace the event took place, had earlier welcomed the guests and assured AWLA that as custodians of the laws of the land, he would uphold the protection of the rights of widows.”O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation has done marvellously well for State and country, and I give my words that the kingdom will continue to partner with the Foundation”, he said.

The King also appealed to the Foundation to extend its helping hands to youths and elderly in Ekpeyeland.Some appreciative widows shared their joy over the gifts of food, wrappers and polo shirts from the O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation at the event.

Some of the widows who expressed their gratitude include Christiana Elechi, Beauty Vincent, Patience Patrick, Hope Chigozie, Angelina Martins, Ngozi Uweh, Catherine Ebenezer, Victoria Ogadi, Bridget Uzoma, Benice Saturday, Christiana Philip and Gold Livinus.

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