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A widows empowerment program by interior PS Dr Raymond Omollo in Nyanza is now focusing its attention on how to expand access to credit facilities.

The program’s coordinator Victor Ayugi who works at the office of the PS says the initiative is also keen to narrow the gender gaps in education, business, training, and employment.

Speaking in the South Gem ward in Siaya County, the program’s coordinator noted that the empowerment of women is an integral part of the development of the country.

“It deepens social and economic justice, amplifies their self-confidence and defines women’s ability to influence crucial decisions,” he said.

“We must therefore work towards exploiting women’s untapped potential by creating safe spaces for them,” he added.

PS Omollo serves as the patron of the Nyanza Widows Empowerment Program.

On Saturday, the program’s coordinator led a constructive and development-based meeting with the widows drawn from South Gem Ward at Siala Kanyikwaya Village, Gem Constituency, Siaya County.

According to the coordinator, the PS is out to fully support and empower Widows and vulnerable families within the Nyanza Region.

Ayugi observed that the Nyanza Widows Empowerment program is targeting to enroll more widows groups not just in Siaya County but the whole of Nyanza region and work on how to uplift them economically.

“We select the groups by doing a pre-visit based on the elligible registered certificates they own and the type of activities they indulge in that help them in their daily endeavors and make them fit in the society just like any other person,” he said.

A jubilant beneficiary of the Nyanza Widows Empowerment Program at a meeting with the program’s officials in Gem constituency on Saturday.

During the Saturday meeting, the program’s officials met Siala and Osiepe widows groups in the Gem constituency in Siaya County.

The two groups have a total of 76 widows.

According to officials, the program targets 3 widows groups per ward across the Nyanza region.

So far, according to the program’s coordinator, over 2,500 widows have benefitted from the initiative.

The program’s coordinator pointed out that in their past engagement with the widows, the constant concerns that they want to be addressed include discrimination and stigma.

“This cuts across, irrespective of cultures, religion ethnicity,” he said.

Other notable challenges that the widows are facing, which the program is seeking to address include inadequate shelter, issues around wife inheritance, and the right to own land.

He said that most widows still face a lot of challenges despite being married lawfully.

“Customary law demands that widows should marry one of the brothers of the deceased for them to survive. A refusal often leads to all manner of persecutions and other forms of blackmail,” he said.

Ayugi noted that the Nyanza Widows Empowerment program is interested in rescuing widows who are living in extreme poverty through the implementation of initiatives that can transform their lot.

“We introduce them to various income-generating activities that get them out of the dependency syndrome to independent livelihood,” he said.

Through the program, widows groups are provided with finance to support undertakings such as table banking, agribusiness amongst others,” he said

The program also advises the widows to join groups so that whatever support is given is channeled for communal benefit.

“We also offer financial support for the merry-go-round groups,” he said.

As a way to ensure there’s sustainability, the widows group are encouraged to rear Chicken.

“We invite experts in different areas of business and expose them fully with more knowledge,” he said.

According to Ayugi, the program’s primary objective is to uplift the spirits of widows, instilling in them a profound sense of self-worth while equipping them with skills and knowledge to surmount life’s challenges.

In addition to their financial support, the program also undertakes the task of constructing homes for widows facing extreme poverty.

“Under the guidance of the PS, the Nyanza Widows Empowerment Program has set its sights on existing widow groups in the Nyanza wards, aiming to make a meaningful impact on their lives,” the coordinator stated.

“Since its inception, the program has touched the lives of over 2500 widows hailing from Siaya, Homa Bay, Kisumu, and Migori counties,” he added.

The core of their support lies in financial contributions directly to well-established and active Chama bank accounts.

This approach, according to the program’s coordinator has enhanced the widows’ economic activities, such as farming, poultry rearing, and chama group ventures.

“The financial boost doesn’t only expand their profit margins but also goes further into uplifting their livelihoods,” he said.

He further observed that the homes being constructed for the widows serve as a sanctuary, particularly during severe weather conditions, ensuring improved health and overall well-being.

“This initiative perfectly aligns with the government’s Bottom-Up approach to economic empowerment,” he noted.

“By directly investing in these widows and their communities at the grassroots level, the Nyanza Widows Empowerment Program exemplifies the principles of economic empowerment from the ground up,” he pointed out.

According to Ayugi, the initiative empowers widows to take control of their economic destinies, fostering self-reliance and resilience in the face of adversity.

“Elevating the status of women in society, especially widows, is of paramount importance in the nation’s development,” affirmed the Program Coordinator.

He noted that by championing and bolstering women’s economic endeavors at the grassroots level, the program empowers the widows to play a more active role in socio-economic decision-making.

“As a united team, we’ve succeeded in bringing smiles to the faces of widows and reminding them that their lives and social contributions are significant. With Dr. Raymond as our patron, his enduring dream is to eradicate social and gender discrimination within his hometown and the wider region,” he said.

According to Dr Omollo who is the program’s patron, society moves forward when the most vulnerable is uplifted.

“This is the essence of the government’s Bottom-Up approach, where the empowerment of the most vulnerable in society is a cornerstone of progress,” he said.

In other news PS Raymond Omollo joined other members of the National Celebrations Steering Committee for the final inspection visit of Uhuru Gardens.

The venue is being set ready for the 60th independence anniversary.

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