WIDOWHOOD PRACTICES IN SOUTH-EASTERN NIGERIA: AN ASPECT OF WOMEN EXCLUSION IN LEADERSHIP, GOVERNANCE AND DEVELOPMENT
AbstractThis paper is triggered by the mounting cultural and social challenges widows face emanating from several discriminating and demeaning widowhood practices in South-Eastern Nigeria. This situation has somewhat led to the exclusion of widows in leadership, governance, and development. Accordingly, this paper is guided by a number of objectives: to determine whether there are differences in the way Christians and non-Christians observe the widowhood practices in South-Eastern Nigeria; to examine the effects of education, occupation, income and location on compliance with widowhood practices; to examine strategies adopted by widows to cope with the observance of the widowhood practices. These led to the formulation of four hypotheses. Data were collected from 858 respondents, wherein a mixed method of data collection was adopted involving structured questionnaire, in-depth interview, and focused group discussion. Collected data were analyzed using chi-square statistical tool. A number of far-reaching findings were made. First, it was discovered that the widowhood practices adopted within South-East of Igbo society are significantly dependent on the religious background of the widows. Second, it was discovered that women with low income are more likely to adhere to widowhood practices than women with high income. Third, it was discovered that the coping strategies adopted by widows in South Eastern Nigeria are significantly dependent on the age of the marriage. The study concludes that despite problems associated with widowhood, the public attitudes towards widows are sometimes atrocious. Key recommendation is that Churches, government and non-governmental organizations and the traditional rulers are expected to embark on enlightenment programmes to eradicate obnoxious widowhood practices and gender inequities.
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