International Widows Day (IWD): Life After a Partner Dies

International Widows Day (IWD) 2018 Kenya Kibira Widows
2018 Kenya Kibira Widows/Randy Stensgard

International World Widows’ Day takes place every year on 23rd June. It was initially launched by the Loomba Foundation at the House of Lords in London in 2005. The date was chosen because on this day, Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba, Lord Loomba’s mother and the inspiration for the Foundation, became a widow.

International Widows Day (IWD) is a global day of focus for effective action to raise awareness and help widows and their children around the world who are suffering through poverty, illiteracy, HIV/AIDS, conflict and social injustice. In 2015 there are an estimated 259 million widows and 585 million children in the world, together with their family members, the number is well over a billion people. Through no fault of their own, they lose their husband or father and continue to suffer for the rest of their lives through stigma, discrimination, and poverty.

On the 22nd December 2010 at the 65th UN General Assembly, the United Nations recognized 23rd June as International Widows Day when a statistics of over 115 million widows was recorded as struggling to survive poverty. Many of these women and their children are malnourished, exposed to diseases, and subjected to extreme forms of deprivation.

The day a woman is married, all happiness falls away from her life”- Nepalese adage

Widowed women experience targeted murder, rape, prostitution, forced marriage, property theft, eviction, social isolation, and physical abuse.

1.5 million Widow’s children in the world die before their fifth birthday

Children of widows face horrors such as child marriage, illiteracy, loss of schooling, forced labor, human trafficking, homelessness, sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS infected, armed conflict and poverty are amongst the most prolific causes of widowhood

Persecution and abuse against widows and their children are not crisis limited to the developing world, large groups of windows can also be found in Europe, including Russia and Central Asia

A common concern among widows and widowers, as well as those who never married, is who will care for them if they become ill or infirm. Relatively few Americans have insurance for long-term care or the ability or desire to move in with adult children or live in a nursing home — none of which are adequate substitutes for a caring spouse.

Widows in developed countries face social isolation and commonly live with severe insecurity and poverty due to lack of affordable health care and employment.

The ultimate goal of this International Widows 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.
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