The Methodist Church Ghana, under the Gender and Family Life Directorate, commemorated International Widows’ Day on Thursday, June 23, 2022, at the Calvary Methodist Church, Adabraka, Accra.
Widows’ Day was set apart by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2010 to create awareness of the violation of human rights that widows suffer in many countries. The day also highlights the need for more research and statistics into violence, discrimination, and poverty suffered by widows and to develop policies and programmes to address the problem. This year’s event was on the theme: “Sustainable Solutions for Widows’ Financial Independence.”
About One Hundred and Fifty-Six (156) women and some twenty-four (24) men gathered for the celebration at the Calvary Methodist Church, Adabraka. The chairman for the occasion was Mr. Jacob Osei Yeboah – 2012 and 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate. He commended the church for organizing the event and urged the church to do more to cater for the plight of the widows.
The General Director for the Social Services General Directorate of The Methodist Church Ghana, Dr. Ken Dadzie Sagoe, delivered a message on behalf of the Presiding Bishop of the church, assuring the gathering of the unflinching support of the church to widows and the marginalized in the society.
There was a panel discussion addressing the issues of widows. The panel included Very Rev. Dr. Christina Dzakpasu (Cape Coast West Circuit), Lawyer Ebenezer A. Kwaitoo (Solicitor and Notary Public), Nana Ama Gyanbeah II (Queen Mother of Pokuase) and Naa Korkor Adjouhli (Queen Mother of Adabraka) - representing traditional rulers. There was also a widow and a fatherless on the panel. They shared the ordeal they had to go through at the demise of their husband and father respectively. The fatherless ended up sharing tears as she recounted the ill-treatment she and her siblings suffered at the hands of her father’s relatives, to the extent that they were ejected from their home.
In the long run, she dropped out of school in order to take care of her younger siblings. Sharing her experience, the widow on the demise of her husband, she said even when his family was fully aware that her husband was battling cancer, she was still blamed for his death.
The Traditional Leaders shared with the gathering why widowhood rites are performed. Among other things they said is that it was basically to ensure that there was proper separation between the living and the dead spouse. However, they were quick to add that some people abuse the practice and that must be checked.
On her part, Very Rev Dr. Christina Dzakpasu urged the church to continue advocating for widows and standing with them in all situations. She further admonished women to be strong in such situations and focus on God for help and not the ordeal they go through. She added that women must add value to themselves and work to support themselves and the family and not totally depend on their husbands.
Lawyer Ebenezer A. Kwaitoo exposed the gathering to the various provisions in Ghana’s constitution and encouraged them to seek redress for the abuses meted out to widows and their children. He quoted from the Wills Act, 1997 (Act 360), Intestate Succession Act, 1985 (PNDCL 111), and Domestic Violence Act, 2007 (Act 732). He stated that there are enough provisions in our constitution to deal with abuses. He stressed that widows must be educated on their rights and not allow anybody to mistreat them out of ignorance.
The Director of Gender and Family Life Directorate, Very Rev. Comfort Ruth Quartey-Papafio, assured the gathering that the church will continue to equip and advocate for widows and also provide them with employable skills for their financial sustainability. She added that International Widows’ Day will be commemorated by all Dioceses throughout the Connexion.
Representing the Gender Department of the Ministry for Women, Children and Social Protection was Madam Kate Anku. She commended The Methodist Church Ghana for commemorating International Widows’ Day. She pledged the support of her Ministry in subsequent events of the church involving women and children.