Widows gather in Tanzania to demand cultural change

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Hundreds of widows are meeting in Tanzania’s capital, Dodoma, to demand more rights in traditional societies in East Africa.

In some cultures, a widow is unable to inherit her late husband’s property. In others, she becomes the wife of her late husband’s brother.

The gathering, organised by the non-governmental origination Amazing Grace, also includes widows from neighbouring countries like Kenya, Uganda and Malawi.

“Some of the challenges widows face include intimidation and being stigmatised by the late husband’s family,” Beatrice Mwinuka, who is running the symposium, said.

“Some relatives are determined to take property, which a widow has toiled to gather with her husband,” she said.

“At times, the woman is left behind with small school-going children, but you will find that, these relatives do not care a bit.

“There are times when the widow does not know her rights and because she is in the village, she doesn’t know where to go and get help.”

In Tanzania, the main challenge facing widows is the issues of property as some families think widows will go on to marry someone else.

But things are changing here, as it is acknowledged what a key role a woman plays in a marriage and how she contributes to a couple’s wealth.

 

Sammie Idika