Widowed breadwinners; a story to tell

30-06-2022 09:07 AM

Ammon News - There could be no more devastating moment in a woman's life than the loss of her husband, which reshapes her family life and leaves her with a mountain of responsibilities, not to mention the responsibility to raise her children alone.

Breadwinner widows suffer in ways never before seen, causing major havoc on the family unit's structure, finances, and overall well-being. The number of breadwinner widows in the Kingdom is estimated to be around 30,000, according to official data.

Despite being a widow for nearly two decades, Umm Mustafa managed to pass the test while raising six children on her own. Her burden is compounded by the fact that one of her sons has epilepsy, necessitating the placement of that child in a specialized facility.

There isn't enough money coming in to meet their basic needs, and the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has made matters worse, according to her.

Adla Al-Tweisi, the head of the Wadi Musa Widows and Development Families Association, says the association has a lending arm that extends financial support to vulnerable women in the community to give them a fighting chance in life.

For this reason, she is particularly interested in empowering widows and other low-income families, as well as establishing worthwhile projects to boost household income and provide financial assistance to university students.

There were about eighteen women who received assistance from the association including one mother of five whose late husband had been building a home before he passed, according to Al-Tweisi.

According to her, her husband's salary of JD100 per month was used to pay back a bank loan. Consequently, the association took the initiative to secure a loan from a donor, allowing the family to finish the construction of their home and allowing the mother to work in sales.

Al-Tweisi tells the story of another widow who has three children, all of whom suffer from stunted growth. A loan of JD1,500 was obtained through the association, allowing her to open a supermarket and earn a decent living.

Furthermore, she points out how women can be involved in projects such as working in a bakery to help their families meet their multiple needs and combat the culture of shame within the community at large.

Jordanian widows aged 15 and older make up approximately 9.9 percent of all females, while Jordanian breadwinner widows make up nearly 75.4 percent. Furthermore, according to 2021 figures from the Department of Statistics, the percentage of unemployed widows is around 7.9 percent.

There are approximately 30,652 widows (heads of households) who receive recurring monthly aid and 2,374 widows who benefit from a unified cash support program, according to media spokesperson and advisor to the Director-General of the National Aid Fund Najeh Sawalha, who spoke to the Jordan News Agency (Petra).

Psychologist Dr. Mai Mhaidat has recently published a book titled "Widows as a Model: The Support and Rehabilitation Program Provided to Jordanian Women One Hundred Years after the Founding of the Jordanian State," in which she concluded that widows' quality of life can be improved through psychological, emotional, and behavioral therapy and support.

When the breadwinner husband dies, Mhaidat says that some families are at risk of breakup, which puts enormous strain on the widowed mother and exacerbates the family's living conditions.

For widows and families with orphaned children, the government runs multiple programs to provide for their basic needs while also empowering women to start their own businesses and earn an income.

Widows should be given psychosocial support that focuses on helping them find meaning in life, improve their emotional well-being, learn problem-solving skills, and adjust to a life-altering event like the death of a spouse, according to Mhaidat.

In agreement with Mhaidat 's assertion, Vice President of the Association of Psychiatrists Dr. Alaa Froukh says that widows' mental health benefits greatly from social support. As a result of the husband's absence, Froukh believes that the wife's psychological, material and social support is diminished, necessitating additional assistance to deal with the new stresses.

Dr. Yousef Al-Sharman, professor of sociology at Al-Balqa Applied University, believes that the widow may experience verbal and possibly physical abuse in addition to being denied her inheritance and having unwelcome intrusion into her life.

He advocates for empowering widows to access their full rights to alleviate psychological and social pressures, including the presumption that widows should remain single to care for their children.

The United Nations General Assembly designated an International Widows' Day at the beginning of the last week of June annually, to highlight issues affecting widows, who number around 254 million worldwide.


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