On Saturday 21st June, ace actress, cultural icon and multiple international award winner Akumaa Mama Zimbi, known privately as Mrs. Joyce Akumaa Dongotey-Padi, hosted over 2,000 widows again from across all corners of Ghana. Widows from places like Wenchi, Twifo Praso, Upper Denkyira, Tema, Bawku, Hikpo, Techiman, Sampa, Accra, Ketekrachie, just to mention a few gathered at Pavilion B, Ghana International Trade Fair Centre, Accra for the 6th National Widows Alliance Conference (NAWAC). This is an initiative by Mama Zimbi Foundation (MZF) through its Widows Alliance Network (WANE) project for sustainable socio-economic development of widows in Ghana.
Activities at the conference included singing and dancing by widow groups, mini trade fair and song ministrations by Nhyira Betty. Her Excellency Dr. Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings (former first lady of the Republic of Ghana) who was the Keynote Speaker also encouraged and motivated the widows and gave them practical solutions on how they can move out of their shells and live their lives fully as God purposed. Other prominent speakers at the conference included Nanahemaa Adwoa Awindor (President, African Queens and Women Cultural Leaders Network – AQWCLN), Hon. Beatrice Bernice Boateng (Former Member of Parliament for New Juaben South), Rev Gabriel Ansah (Chancellor, Nasem University) and Mrs. Amy Appiah Frimpong (Ag. Executive Director of National Theater).
At the conference, Mama Zimbi stated that, widowhood which is not by choice or curse is just like any natural phenomenon that is ordained by God. And widows especially, have not been treated fairly traditionally and even in modern times in Ghana. According to her, though it has proven quiet difficult to get rid of some bad widowhood rites because many people still have strong attachment to all sorts of superstitious beliefs, education through advocacy and the provision of employable skills as what Mama Zimbi Foundation (MZF) is doing through its Widows Alliance Network (WANE), should be the most appreciable long-term solution to these problems plaguing our society.
She added that Mama Zimbi Foundation (MZF) is currently striving to set up an ultra modern ‘Center for Technical, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training’ (CTVET) as a permanent place to provide vocational training, human rights education, reproductive health and social integration programs for women and girls.
She concluded that, widowhood brings a lot of challenges like economic burden, single parenthood and loneliness, so Ghana needs to help its widows and widowers grow in self confidence and lead a normal life as every other human being.
The conference, in its Sixth year, is organized on a large scale as the grand occasion where all of Ghana and Africa are made to appreciate the roles widows are playing as ambassadors of change in their communities. It also serves as the ideal dialogue platform for the advocacy of a comprehensive policy and legal direction for elevating the standards of widows in Ghana. It is also to celebrate the United Nations International Widows Day.
Sponsors of NAWAC-2014 include Unibank – Caring for you, Bedita Pharmacy, Gewah Hospital, Indomie Instant Noodles, Herbal Technology, Ice Cool Purified Water, Mobile Engineering Services and Fru Telli. Others include Bake Shop Classics, Danny’s Décor, Last Hour Catering Services,and Ghana International Trade Fair Center. The media partners are Multi TV, Capital TV, Citi FM, Adom FM, Media Fanbern, Websoft Solutions and DDP.