She said sometimes those customs have negative implications on widows, and thus excluding them economically and socially.
“In some customs, when women lose their husbands, they stay at home for three months, without any source of income to cater for the family, resulting in hardship. It looks like immediately your husband dies; poverty becomes your next friend.”
Ms Appiah made this observation at a ceremony organised by the Samuel Amo Tobbin (SAT) Foundation for widows to commemorate this year’s International Widows Day celebration on the theme, “Invisible Women, Invisible Problem” in Accra.
She said the theme was appropriate as it raises concern about how widows have been made invisible to their challenges that affect them especially with regards to inheritance.
She said women must be familiar with provisions and procedures under the PNDC Law 111, so that when their husbands die intestate, they would be able to benefit from his properties outside the matrimonial home.
“The PNDC Law 111 looks at properties outside the matrimonial home because the matrimonial home is solely for the surviving spouse and then all children (legitimate children) and so there is a percentage for each one under the PNDC Law,” she said.
Ms Appiah also urged women to effect changes to their signatories with their Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) when they start having children to avoid any misunderstandings after death.
She urged the widows to be advocates, productive, and industrious in order to be recognized and be able to support their children to attain higher laurels in the future.
Mrs Harriet Asante, Executive Director, SAT Foundation, the CRS wing of Tobinco Pharmaceutical challenged widows across the country to be strong-willed and take control of their lives.
She said widowhood was not meant to reduce a woman’s status or take the life out of her despite losing a spouse, adding that it was just a phase which would pass, urging them to earn a living and not resign to fate.
“As widows, we must not be weak, and vulnerable, but rather, we must be empowered. When your husband passes on, you can do something with the small thing that you have. This will geminate a lot of things for the family and yourself and help you to earn a living,” she added.
In 2010, the United Nations acknowledged June 23 as the International Widows’ Day, with the aim of gathering support for widows and spreading awareness about their situation.
The day is also to highlight the experiences of widows and the assistance they require, and a call for action for achieving full rights and recognition for widows. This special day plays an important role in strengthening the voices of widows, who largely face discrimination and hardship globally.