The rising number of widows in Kenya has shocked Second Lady Dorcas Gachagua as she promised to commence income-generating activities to empower them.

Mrs Gachagua who was at Gede area in Malindi Sub County, Kilifi County to meet widows was shocked by the high turnout saying that the death of men was a threat to the family unit.

Accompanied by area leaders led by Kilifi First Lady Susan Mung’aro, Kilifi Deputy Governor Flora Chibule and Kilifi North MP Owen Baya, the Second Lady said that she had identified an investor who will help widows in the area to earn from the conservation of mangroves at Mida Creek.

“When I came here, I was expecting to meet at least 700 widows but I am seeing more than 1,700 widows here already seated and others are still coming in and as a country, this is something we need to rethink and know exactly what is happening to our men because 1,700 men have died and we need to know why,” she said.

She added that in her program the Boychild, she was encouraging families to be strong and supportive of each other to reduce stress and depression.

“As a defender of the boychild, I will go to the bottom and see why we have so many widows because this tells me that my boys have died. Being a widow is the last thing any woman would imagine because it is hard and draining and, in some societies, it is unbearable,” she added.

Communities were also accused of victimizing and degrading widows and Mrs Gachagua argued that widow ship was not a transition from one marital status to another and gave an example of her own mother who lived a disturbed widow for over forty years after she was dispossessed of her husband’s inheritance.

“It can be a painful, humiliating experience to women and widows should be respected but, in our country, it is different since many widows are disrespected and dishonoured and they live in shame and they don’t know exactly where they stand. In several cases widows suffer social and economic sanctions and face many psychological cases in due cause,” she said.

She urged Kenyans to support widows and their children adding that her mama boys and widows and orphans’ programmes were geared towards dignifying the family unit in the country.

“You have heard many call me mama boys. The death of the boychild, your husbands, at a young age because of alcohol, drug and substance abuse, accidents, mental illnesses and other issues have resorted to the bulging number of widows that we are seeing today.

My agenda is founded on chaplaincy, advocacy and family values and this is the ultimate focus for the society to have strong and dignified families,” she said.

Mrs Mung’aro on her side said that she has also initiated programs to empower women and widows in the county.

“Widow ship doesn’t mean poverty and as leaders we must empower them because women are the foundations of families and with small startups, I have seen tremendous achievements in some of them,” she said.

Her sentiments were echoed by Mrs Chibule who encouraged widows to take advantage of her office get empowered adding that youth empowerment will help give the widows encouragement since most of their children under the youth bracket will take care of them.

“When we empower the youth, we have empowered the widows and they will rest easy knowing that their children are well taken care of and the county has given full secondary school scholarships from poor backgrounds of which most of them are widows,” she said.

Mr Baya said that widows were always the most suffering people in society and that programs such as MAMA BOYS and OPHARNS AND WIDOWS program by the Second Lady were encouraged so that widows can get empowered.

“These widows in Kilifi are different from those from other areas because they still suffer when their husbands are still alive and when the men die then the mother of all sufferings set in.

With programs like what you have started then we are going to alleviate their suffering and we shall support you in this cause,” he said.