Widows call for their lands and property rights to be respected

Widows during the commemoration of International Widows Day held at Musungu grounds in Vihiga. [Brian Kisanji, Standard]

Widows are demanding their constitutional property inheritance rights to be protected.

This was evident during the commemoration of this year’s International Widows Day event held at Musungu grounds in Vihiga county.

First Lady Rachel Ruto graced the event whose theme was; “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality with emphasis on strengthening land and property rights.”

Widows were urged to unite and ensure their rights were not infringed, especially the land and property rights.

The First Lady said the commemoration was meant to ensure that widows' issues are brought to the fore and have their rights improved.

She reiterated the government's commitment in ensuring the widows are not affected by economic insecurity, social isolation, physical and emotional abuse. "We have to invest in widows knowing they are affected by many issues. Today’s event is to ensure that the widows are not harassed and left behind on the national agenda," she said.

She highlighted some of the government projects that are tailored to help widows in the country.

According to her, the government prides itself for enhanced policies and practical solutions to eliminate the systemic violations of widows' rights through economic empowerment programs like the Hustler Fund, Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) and Uwezo Funds available for women.

"Widows can unite and use these platforms to ensure they are uplifted financially," said Ms Ruto.

President William Ruto's advisor on Women's Rights Harriett Chiggai said currently, the government is working on strengthening existing laws like the Law of Succession Act, Marriage Act and Protection Against Domestic Violence Act. She said the laws will provide better legal protection for widows' inheritance rights and safety.

"It will help prevent dispossession and ensure widows have a fair share of their deceased spouse's estate," said Chiggai.

Ms Chiggai called on all stakeholders to join hands with the government in creating a more supportive environment for Kenyan widows.

Dr Diana Kamande, the founder of 'Come Together Widows and Orphans' organization said currently the country has over 1.7 million widows with Vihiga County accounting for over 37,000 widows.

Mildred Afande a widow of 40 years from Vihiga highlighted some harmful traditional practices like widow inheritance and widow cleansing which are rampant in some societies. “We appreciate efforts done by the government but a lot need be done