First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Esther Mcheka Chilenje, has called on widows in the country to stop looking down upon themselves and, instead, form business partnerships to uplift their lives.
Speaking during the Malawi Widows Association (Mawia) inaugural international Widows’ Day commemoration held in Salima on Saturday, Mcheka-Chilenje said the death of one’s husband is painful but should not warrant life-long suffering.
Mcheka-Chilenje said, when widows network, they can do small-scale businesses and maximise profits for the betterment of their respective families.
“When somebody loses a husband, she automatically becomes devastated and frustrated in many ways. But the networking of women enables them to socialise and encourage one another and, as a result, the woman feels to be part of society,” Mcheka-Chilenje said.
She said Parliament has done its part through the enactment of laws such as Wills and Inheritance Act and Marriage, Family Relations and Divorce Act, which are aimed at protecting women from various forms of abuse.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Samuel Tembenu, said the Wills and Inheritance Act gives more protection to people who suffer the loss of a breadwinner such as the husband and the government has been proactive in promoting the Act.
“Implementation is going on very well because most of the incidents such as property grabbing are criminal offences under the Act. If you grab property from people who have been windowed, you are taken to task. Implementation is done in several ways including civic education, prosecuting perpetrators and sensitising the communities to the need to take care of those that have been affected by this kind of calamity,” Tembenu said.
Mawia Board Chairperson, Andrina Mchiela, encouraged widows to be part of the countrywide widows’ network for economic and psychosocial support.
“We have zonal groups; we have clubs in every district in Malawi. So, they can get affiliated to these and, when they are there, they will supported. We are not promising that we are coming with a package of money. What we are promising is that we can share knowledge on business [ideas] and how they can handle issues that affect widows,” Mchiela said.
During the Action Aid Malawi-supported event, Ames Nthala, who was widowed at 27 years, narrated numerous challenges she has faced in raising the three children her husband left behind.