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First Lady calls for more support for widows

First Lady Mama Rachael Ruto

First Lady Rachel Ruto has called for more support for widows so that they are economically empowered.

The First Lady said widows face economic insecurity, social isolation, and physical and emotional abuse.

Mrs Ruto spoke Sunday in Musungu Grounds, Vihiga County, during this year’s commemoration of the International Widows Day.

“Let us ensure the widowed rebuild their lives and are able to support their families,” she said.

She pointed out that many widows have been robbed of their lands and other property

Mrs Ruto said discrimination and lack of support makes them vulnerable to exploitation and marginalisation.

“We have to support these women to invest in economic activities that will uplift their livelihoods,” she said.

She urged women to take advantage of different funds the government has set up to borrow money and improve their lot.

These include the Women Enterprise and Hustlers funds, among others.

She further urged women to take advantage of Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO). This fund sets the legal requirement for women, youth and persons with disabilities to access 30% of government procurement.

Vihiga Governor Wilbur Otichillo said widows suffer many injustices due to lack of legal representation and urged them to seek help from National Government or county officials.

“Land matters affecting widows should also be addressed without delay,” he added.

He said the county government is conducting research in Vihiga on why more men than women die.

He urged families to write legal wills on what they own to avoid conflicts among family members.

The President’s Advisor on Women’s Rights Harriette Chiggai said various laws safeguard the interests of widows, and urged them to remain outspoken when they face legal challenges.

This year’s theme is Accelerating the Achievement of Gender Equality.

Vihiga Women Representative Beatrice Adagala said President William Ruto has continuously supported women empowerment programmes across the country.

She cited the Women Enterprise Fund and the National Government Affirmative Action Fund as pivotal in women’s progress.

Sabatia MP Clement Logova urged leaders to establish support programmes for women.

She encouraged widows to take advantage of available business opportunities.

“You are strong women and you have a bright future ahead of you, Mr Logova said.