Delta Government on Friday empowered 565 widows through its Widows Skill Acquisition and Empowerment Programme.
The widows were empowered with starter packs after undergoing training in five different areas of vocational training in hairdressing, fashion and design, make-up, soap making and baking.
Addressing the beneficiaries at the ceremony with “Sustainable Solutions for Widows Financial Independence” as its theme, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and Vice Presidential Candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said that the empowerment was part of measures to tackle challenges faced by some vulnerable members of the society, especially widows.
Okowa who ordered the increase in the number of beneficiaries of the scheme from 11,000 to 20,000 and the monthly stipend from N5, 000 to N10, 000 monthly, urged them to use the starter-packs to fend for themselves and add to the improvement of the economy of the State.
According to him, we are here to fulfill part of our promise for a Stronger Delta as we tackle the challenges faced by some vulnerable members of society through providing starter-packs to 565 widows across the State.
“These widows have undergone training in five different areas of vocational training, which consist of hairdressing, fashion and design, make-up, soap making and baking.
“This will go a long way in shoring up the economic sustenance of these widows and by the grace of God, will position them in due course, to offer training and employment to other Deltans.
“At the commencement of the Widows’ Welfare Scheme, 5,607 widows were placed on a stipend of N5, 000 each.
“After the enumeration of widows in the State, the number was increased to 11, 107,” he said, adding that the women were drawn from the 270 federal wards in the 25 local government areas of the State.
He explained that apart from the monthly stipend, the widows enjoyed free healthcare services through the state’s contributory health insurance scheme in accredited hospitals and primary healthcare centres in their localities.
While saying that the widows’ welfare scheme was non-partisan, Okowa noted that it was for women resident in the state irrespective of political affiliation, tribe and religion.
He urged the beneficiaries to build on the economic elevation to improve on their living standard and that of their dependants.
“Last year, as part of the process to deepen the gains of the Widows’ Welfare Scheme, this administration approved the enumeration of widows across the State to provide an electronic database of their number in the State.
“The current beneficiaries are drawn from the 270 Federal Wards across the State and let me make it clear that the Widows’ Welfare Scheme is non-partisan. It is for widows resident in the State irrespective of political affiliation.
“The training targeted the young, energetic and trainable among you. You should therefore make the best use of this opportunity to encourage the State to do more.
“Today’s exercise is a demonstration that the Stronger Delta Agenda is all embracing. It cuts across every segment of the population from pregnant women, infants, youths, the elderly and the vulnerable.
“We are determined to leave the State better than we met it and with the continuous support of Deltans, we will not rest on our oars,” the governor stated.
The Project Coordinator of the scheme, Mr Isioma Okonta, thanked the governor for providing resources for the training and empowerment and for giving hope to vulnerable segments of the society, pointing out that in the past, the government has empowered the widows with starter packs under the scheme.