Siaya County Senator, James Orengo, has begun pushing for the enactment of widows’ charter into the County laws and lobby legislators to make it a national law.
If passed into law, it will protect widows against harmful practices like cleansing, Inheritance, physical assault and property disinheritance that remain key challenges facing widows in the County.
“Women rights require that we treat women with dignity and the people who need dignity most are widows because many times their rights are being violated in the homes and within communities. We must make sure that when the husband dies, the widow will be in charge of the family and all the property. I think we can make the law better,”
The Charter developed by Rona Foundation incorporating views of over 8,000 widows from six Siaya Sub County was submitted to Siaya County Assembly in May 2021.
It calls on the County Government to adapt into law and implement the widows charter to legislate a Widow’s Protection Bill- that will make the violation of Widows rights unlawful
“Part of the law of Siaya County in the next County Assembly, will be the widows’ charter and am challenging Otiende Amollo and other national assembly legislators to make it a national law as their first duty in the next parliament,” said Orengo.
The charter also calls for establishment of the Office of Widowed Persons within the department of Gender & social protection to address policies, strategies, and implementation mechanisms including frameworks and formulated schemes to enable widows access resources and support on priority to attain UN Sustainable Development Goals, more specifically Goal No. 5.
Come Together Widows and Orphans Organization (CTWOO) Founder, Dianah Kamande said pursuing justice has been a major challenge to widows especially those who are already victims of gender-based-violence since it requires a lot of money for the justice process, which they lack.
“Poverty has made it hard for them to afford lawyers hence the lack of representation also results in difficulties in the pursuit for justice where they end up not getting justice at all,” she said.
CTWOO is a nonprofit Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that creates a safe space where widows and survivors of gender-based violence can share their experiences and ideas. It has nationwide network working with over 1 million widows in all the 47 counties
Orengo who spoke when he officiated the commemoration of International Widows Day (IWD) 2022 said Kenya needs more women leaders for women rights to be honoured.
The theme for this year’s IWD is ‘Dignity – Economic Empowerment and Social Justice for Widows’ in recognition of the extricable link between economic empowerment, poverty and social justice for the dignity of all widows.
During the event, a Ksh. 30 Million kitty was unveiled to spur growth of small businesses run by widows and enable them to venture into new income generating activities.
The funds pooled from Women Enterprise Fund, Uwezo Fund, Youth Fund and National government affirmative fund will support among other initiatives, like fish caging, poultry farming and table banking.
Siaya County Women Representative, Dr. Christine Ombaka said, “Widows have a history of working hard to improve the well-being of families and children. That is why the government has set aside funds to boost your businesses and strengthen your socio-economic initiatives.”
Rarieda Member of Parliament, Otiende Amollo, said if Azimio-one Kenya Alliance forms the next government, widows- ranked among the most vulnerable, will be the first beneficiaries of Ksh 6,000 monthly stipend.
“What you may not have known is that in the order of listing, that will be done in conjunction with county commissioners, we start with the most vulnerable, and the most vulnerable are the widows,” said Amollo.
The 2019 Census confirmed that there are over 1 million widows living in Kenya and the number is expected to be on the rise due to challenges such as the Covid-19 and increasing incidences of accidents.