UN Women estimates that there are more than 250 million widows globally, with one in ten facing discrimination and extreme poverty.
In Kenya, there are approximately four million widows according to the Government census of 2019, who continue to face challenges that involve disinheritance, discrimination and harmful traditional practices that include cleansing rites and sexual violence.
The UN Women is now pushing for the establishment of a global lasting solution to address widows’ plight.
During the 65th session of Commission on the Status of Women hosted by the Global Fund for Widows held recently, UN Women Executive Director, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said the UN Women is now pushing for the establishment of a global lasting solution to address widows’ plight.
“It is important to address these issues and ensure there is a policy and legal environment for women to have recourse,” she said.
The challenges widows face are an impediment to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which among others, emphasises on gender equality.
Kenya is currently putting in place policy and legislative framework in place to address the plight of widows.
Public Service and Gender Cabinet Secretary Prof Margaret Kobia who attended the virtual event, said the government through her ministry is spearheading the establishment of pioneering programs for widows that gives them space in political participation.
“The Government of Kenya is reviewing its policy and legislative frameworks to facilitate the protection and empowerment of widows. In recognition of the economic and social contribution of women, including widows, to our societies, the government is committed to empower women economically and strengthen their land, property and inheritance rights, she said.
She added that the government is also leading on mainstreaming widowhood as a human rights issue that must be addressed to provide them with opportunity, access, and inclusion.
The CS expressed the government’s commitment to lead on mainstreaming widowhood as a human rights issue.
“In my capacity in the UN Security Council and as the Global Goodwill Ambassador for Widows in Peace and Security, I pledge to ensure the plight of widows is given a lasting resolution and accorded their human fundamental rights and end their human rights violations, which they are faced with every day,” said Dr Alie Kabba.
Widows in the country recently challenged the national and county assemblies to make succession laws that protect their interests.
Come Together Widows and Orphans Organisation (CTWOO) and organisation that has been in the fore-front in championing the rights for widows in the country said the legislation will protect women who lose their husbands from harassment and exploitation by family and the community.
CTWOO chairperson Diana Kamande called for the establishment of a kitty to empower widows economically.
She said some widows have been kicked out of their matrimonial homes, while others disinherited of properties. These widows suffer silently, she said.