International Widows Day
International Widows Day is a global awareness day that takes place annually on 23rd June. The day was launched by the United Nations in 2010 to raise awareness of the violation of human rights that widows suffer in many countries following the death of their spouses. It is not a Day we celebrate; it is a day of honouring and bringing awareness to the real issues of Widowhood.
In many countries with traditional societies, women find themselves left in poverty when their husband dies. In some countries, these women find themselves denied of inheritance and land rights, evicted from their homes, ostracised and abused. The children of widows also often find themselves affected, withdrawn from school and more vulnerable to abuse, especially in the case of girls.
The first International Widows Day took place in 2005 and was launched by Lord Loomba and the foundation’s president, Cherie Blair. By the sixth International Widows Day in 2010, events were held in Rwanda, Sri Lanka, the United States, the UK, Nepal, Syria, Kenya, India, Bangladesh and South Africa.
On 21 December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly formally adopted 23 June as International Widows Day, endorsing by unanimous acclaim a proposal introduced by President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon.
For many women around the world, the devastating loss of a partner is magnified by a long-term fight for their basic rights and dignity. Even though there are more than 258 million widows around the world, widows have historically been left unseen, unsupported, and unmeasured in our societies.
Towards Progress for Widows
International Widows Day works to encourage action in achieving full rights for widows, highlighting the need for more research and statistics into violence, discrimination and poverty suffered by widows and develop policies and programmes to address the problem.
The goal of the day is to develop resources and policy to empower widows and allow them to have access to education, work, healthcare and lives free of violence and abuse. Enabling them to create a life for themselves and their children following the death of their husband and ending a cycle of poverty and abuse, and other support to widows of all ages also need to be undertaken, including in the context of action plans to accelerate achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.