What you need to know:
- The Gender department, in collaboration with Come Together Widows and Orphans Organisation and Faith Wise Widows have come up with a countrywide initiative that will economically empower widows.
- The widows will be equipped with information on affirmative action funds and how to utilise them for sustainable economic independence.
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, Faith Karambu, who lived in Nairobi, lost her job as a casual labourer at the Nairobi County Government.
Prior to the abrupt lay off, had worked for nine months without pay, making it difficult for her to feed her children, pay rent and meet other expenses.
The single mother of three then went to social media and sent a distress call to Kenyans to bail her out, after the government imposed a lockdown. She needed to relocate to her rural home in Maua after life in the city became unbearable. Fortunately for her, well- wishers came through, raising funds to support her relocation.
In a phone interview with nation.africa, Ms Karambu recalled the challenges she faced before going public and ask for help.
“Most widows, especially those who solely relied on their husbands, face a lot of difficulties. Many are suffering in silence, yet they are in dire need of assistance,” she said.
She noted that thousands of widows experience what she went through, every day.
It is such stories that have prompted the government through the Gender department, in collaboration with Come Together Widows and Orphans Organisation (CTWOO) and Faith Wise Widows, to come up with a countrywide initiative that will economically empower widows.
The program involves tours across the country to educate widows on how to become economically empowered and know their constitutional rights.
The widows will be equipped with information on affirmative action funds and how to utilise them for sustainable economic independence. They are also educated on gender-based violence.
The inaugural tours took place in Embu, Meru and Tharaka Nithi and Isiolo counties this week. Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida-Kenya) lawyers sensitised the widows on their rights, access to justice and succession.
Officials from the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) trained them on how to be economically empowered and the opportunities available for them including the Thamini loan product, which is specifically tailor-made for widows.
The loan facility was officially launched in July by the WEF and offers interest free loans with no administration costs. Beneficiaries must be in a registered self-help group of 10 members and above, comprising 100 per cent women out of which at least 70 per cent should be widows.
The widows were also trained on how to apply for Uwezo Fund, start and one grow their businesses and on becoming champions in saying no to harmful cultural practice like FGM.
CTWOO founder Dianah Kamande told nation.africa that the tours were informed by the many cries from widows and realisation of importance to educate them on succession, economic empowerment and harmful cultural practices.
She said the tours will continue throughout the country with West-Pokot, Elegeyo-Marakwet and Narok being the next on the line.
“Empowering widows to know their rights is the first step towards their freedom. We have thousands of innocent widows being conned by people lying they will help them on succession matters,” Ms Kamande said.
Gender Chief Administrative Secretary Linah Jebii Kilimo who presided over the launch of the national tours, urged the widows to take advantage of the affirmative funds loans, and assured them of the government's commitment towards their welfare.
There are approximately four million widows according to the 2019 census.