There are over 258 million widows around the world that have historically been left unseen and unsupported in our societies.
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.
Experiences and witness accounts from the past show that widows are often denied inheritance rights, have their property grabbed after the death of a partner, and can face extreme stigma and discrimination, as perceived ‘carriers’ of disease.
Today armed conflicts, displacement and migration, the COVID-19 pandemic and other health issues leave tens of thousands of women widowed and many others whose partners are dead or missing.
These devastating yet unique experiences and needs of widows must be brought to the forefront, with their voices leading the way and that is why we all must join the global community to commemorate the International Widows’ Day on 23 June, to take a look at some of the issues affecting widows around the world and what must be done to safeguard and advance their rights.
Now more than ever, this day is an opportunity for action towards achieving full rights and recognition for widows with activities such as providing them with information on access to a fair share of their inheritance, land and productive resources; pensions and social protection that are not based on marital status alone; decent work and equal pay; education and training opportunities. What the society should not also forget is that Empowering widows to support themselves and their families will in a huge way address social stigmas that create exclusion, and discriminatory or harmful practices.
Governments have a responsibility to fast-track the process by putting policies in place and upholding their commitments to ensure the rights of widows as enshrined both in local and global laws. This is important because most times, even when national laws exist to protect the rights of widows, weaknesses in the judicial systems of many States compromise how widows’ rights are defended in practice and should be addressed. Lack of awareness and discrimination by judicial officials can cause widows to avoid turning to the justice system to seek reparations.
Also, NGOs and for-profit organisations can initiate programmes and policies for ending violence against widows and their children, poverty alleviation, education and other support to widows of all ages.
The United Nations advises that in post-conflict situations, widows should be brought in to fully participate in peacebuilding and reconciliation processes to ensure that they contribute to sustainable peace and security.
Don’t let these widows suffer in silence. Reach out today.
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