Widows’ Program

According to The Shephered, a Christian newspaper, issue No. 51 of March 2015, Kenya’s 1969 census showed that 60% of women aged 70 and above were widows, while only 11% of men in the same age group were widowers. Although the country marked the International Widows day on June 20th 2013, there are no recent statistics on the number of widows in Kenya. Across Africa and Asian cultures, patriarchal laws lead to demeaning treatment of widows. African widows irrespective of their ethnic groups, are among the most vulnerable and destitute women in the world today. Inheritance customs and patriarchal nature of societies with oppressive traditions take precedence over constitutional guarantees of equality. International treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women have been unable to overtake local applications of customary law. In India, the plight of widows is extreme. They are burned and if they are not burned, they are considered nonentities because a woman’s social status is conferred upon her through marriage. In the absence of the man, she has zero status. She is viewed as an “evil eye” and a “purveyor of misfortune.” But it is not just widows who endure abuse. The orphans they are left with are often unable to continue with school because there is no financial support coming from close family members and relatives.

A World Bank report titled, Voices of the Poor, say that widows’ poverty is directly linked to the lack of access to economic resources, including credit, land ownership and inheritance, a lack of access to education and support services. In order for widows to conquer poverty and to acquire a better understanding of their human rights, they must have access to the legal process through legal literacy and legal aid, and through improved training of judiciaries, lawyers, police and community leaders. It is therefore necessary to empower and facilitate widows in Kenya to be contributors to the economy so that they are not viewed as “leeches”

Widowhood is a life transforming period for a woman. It is a period that marks a remarkable shift in a woman’s social, financial and psychological outlook. The widow faces many odds once she is confronted with the death of her husband. Immediately the husband dies,......