Every year June 23 has been observed as ‘International Widows’ Day’ since 2011 for drawing attention to the unheard voices of the widows, highlight their problems and galvanize the support that they need in their difficult times.
International Widows Day is the United Nations ratified day of action to address the poverty and the injustice faced by millions of widows and their dependents all over the world.
For many widows around the world, losing their husbands means also losing their income, rights, and possibly their children as well.
In his message on International Widows Day, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres said “let’s commit to providing widows with access to legal and social protection”.
Human rights are for everyone and not contingent on marital status.
For many widows, losing their husband also means losing rights, income, and possibly their children.
On International #WidowsDay, let’s commit to providing widows with access to legal & social protections.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres)
June 22, 2021
International Widows Day 2021: Theme
The theme for International Widows Day 2021 is ‘Invisible Women, Invisible Problems’.
This year’s theme aims at highlighting the fact that for many societies around the world, a woman’s identity is still attached to her partner and in case of his death, the problems faced by the wives are mostly ignored by the policymakers who don’t give any special attention to the widowed women of the society.
Why we need International Widows Day?
Apart from providing a life of dignity and respect to widows around the world, recognition is required for many legal reasons as well.
• Even today, widows face stigma and discrimination after the death of their partners.
• As per the United Nations, women are much less likely to have an access to the old age pension than men.
• Widows are also often denied their inheritance rights.
• Amid the COVID-19 forced lockdown and the job loss, widows have to struggle to pay for their healthcare and to support themselves as well as their children.
• Single-parent families are also particularly vulnerable to psychological and poverty trauma.
International Widows Day: What is the History?
The United Nations General Assembly officially adopted June 23 as the International Widows Day on December 21, 2010, the sixth edition.
After the sixth International Widows Day, events were held in countries such as the United States, Sri Lanka, the UK, India, Syria, Kenya, and Bangladesh.
But before getting recognition by the United Nations, the day was already observed since 2005 by the Loomba Foundation. Rajinder Paul Loomba, Member of the House of Lords, London came up with the Loomba Foundation and started working on various issues faced by the widows in the developing countries.
Why the particular date was chosen?
The date June 23 was chosen by the foundation as the official date as it was on this day in 1954 that Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba, mother of the founder, Rajinder Paul Loomba, became a widow.
Loomba was inspired by the struggles his mother had to go through when she lost her partner at the age of 37 in 1954.
Loomba Foundation works closely with the children of widows in poor and developing countries and helps them in attending school. It has actively worked in various countries including India, as well as other Asian and African countries.
International Widows Day: Did you know?
• Around the world, there are an estimated 258 million widows and nearly one in ten live in extreme poverty.
• In some parts of the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, it has been reported that around 50% of women are widows.
• Widows, around the world in this time as well, are coerced to participate in degrading and harmful and life-threatening traditional practices s part of the burial and mourning rights.
International Widows Day: What is the Significance?
International Widows Day provides an opportunity to work towards the welfare of widows around the world. It calls for action towards the recognition of widows as well as to help them in achieving their full rights.
The day also talks about providing widows with the information and details on access to a fair share of their inheritance, land, and productive resources; decent work and equal pay; pensions and social protection that are not based only on marital status.
According to the United Nations, empowering widows to support themselves as well as their families also means addressing the social stigmas that create exclusion and promote discriminatory or harmful practices.