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Workshops to empower widows and divorcees

by Zahid Jadwat

Navigating through the aftermath of a failed marriage or mourning the loss of a husband can be difficult for widows and divorcees. Be it parenting or managing the social stigmas around divorce, it can be a wretched experience.


“For some ladies, it’s really tough out there,” said Fatima Asmal. She, herself a divorcee, is a founding director and trustee of Durban-based NPO Institute for Learning and Motivation – South Africa (ILM-SA).


She explained how widows and divorcees often find themselves in limbo when it comes to collecting themselves and moving on. She said widows have a great deal of grief to address, whilst dealing  with parenting and other issues. She said short-term financial support was also a dire need among many women.


“Widows [and divorcees] within our community, perhaps other communities as well, are marginalised in the sense that they find it very difficult to meet other people whom they can relate to and it is difficult for them to access cost-effective means to deal with the challenges that they face,” she said.


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Asmal pointed out that while there have been strides made in improving society’s attitudes towards widows and divorcees, “a lot more needs to be done”.


“If you look at it from a societal point of view, there is actually a little bit of change that’s coming about, but the stigma is not gone completely. There’s a lot more that can be done to support widows.


ILM-SA and its partners are planning a series of empowerment workshops for widows and divorcees. The aim, Asmal said, was to create a safe space and a platform for the exchange of ideas and coping skills between widows and divorcees.


“[We thought] we should create some kind of a platform whereby they could be given coping skills, tools and other mechanisms to counsel the challenges which they face. 


Asmal stated one of the reasons that sparked the idea for the workshops was the high cost of therapy. She said the average therapist charged approximately R800 for a single session, which she noted was out of the budget of many widows and divorcees.


The launch event will take place in Riverside, Durban on Sunday, 27 November 2022. It features a line up of prominent motivational speakers, such as Edriss Khamisa, Dr Saffiyya Ebrahim and Amina Kathree Jamal.


“We hope this will be the first of many other such events targeting widows and divorcees exclusively,” she said.




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