The Woman Enterprise Fund (WEF) has disbursed more than Ksh 5 billion since its inception 12 years ago.
Public Service and Gender Cabinet Secretary Prof Margret Kobia at the same time said going forward, widows will access tailor made financing from the Fund.
“My office is in top gear working out a new loan that will target widows in the society,” Prof Kobia stressed.
She was speaking in Meru County when she disbursed cheques valued at Sh39 million to women groups in the region.
Kobia noted that as WEF marks twelve years since it was rolled out, its board has seen the need to come up with this new product to mark the milestone.
“A substantial amount of women enterprise fund will be channeled to widows to enable them start up income-generating ventures,” she added.
CS Kobia pointed out that her Ministry was also working with Saccos and the Maendeleo ya Wanawake(MYW) outfit to ensure more money reaches women at the grassroots explaining that WEF and MYW were currently partnering in providing water tanks to women, an initiative aimed at improving access to clean water, hygiene and nutrition.
She urged women groups to utilize the funds prudently to raise their living standards and also advised those yet to join groups to do so in order to access the funds.
According to Inua Mama Mjane Foundation, a widows’ lobby group in Meru, majority of women face discrimination and injustice causing them to languish in poverty.
The Foundation’s Director Cynthia Kananu appealed to the government to protect the widow’s rights saying, “Widows need special attention from the government due to massive abuse of their rights. Many widows languish in poverty because they are denied right to inherit property.”
A widow, Grace Mwende, thanked the government for taking the initiative to empower widows economically adding they will no longer depend on handouts as has been the case.
Mwende said she was pushed out of her matrimonial home by her brothers in-law after her husband died.
“The in-laws then subdivided the ancestral land without informing me. My three children were disinherited with the full knowledge of the area chief,’’ she regretted hoping the proposed funds will be rolled out promptly.