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International Widows' Day

Jun 23, 2016

In this article from Wikipedia we find that International Widows' Day is a United Nations ratified day of action to address the "poverty and injustice faced by millions of widows and their dependents in many countries". The day takes place annually on 23 June.
 
International Widows Day was established by The Loomba Foundation to raise awareness of the issue of widowhood. The significance of 23 June is that it was on that day in 1954 that Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba, mother of the foundation's founder, Lord Loomba, became a widow. One of the foundation’s key goals is to highlight what it describes as an invisible calamity. A 2010 book, Invisible, Forgotten Sufferers: The Plight of Widows Around the World, estimates that there are 245 million widows worldwide, 115 million of whom live in poverty and suffer from social stigmatization and economic deprivation purely because they have lost their husbands. As part of the Loomba Foundation’s awareness campaign, this study was presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on 22 June 2010.
 
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 USA, the UK, Nepal, Syria, Kenya, India, Bangladesh and South Africa.
 
United Nations recognition - 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. As well as formally recognizing 23 June as a day of observance, the accompanying resolution called upon "Member States, the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations to give special attention to the situation of widows and their children."
 
From the United Nations page:
 
"We must erase the social stigmatization and economic deprivation that confronts widows; eliminate their high risk of sexual abuse and exploitation; and remove the barriers to resources and economic opportunities that constrain their future."
~~Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
 
Absent in statistics, unnoticed by researchers, neglected by national and local authorities and mostly overlooked by civil society organizations – the situation of widows is, in effect, invisible.
 
Yet abuse of widows and their children constitutes one of the most serious violations of human rights and obstacles to development today. Millions of the world’s widows endure extreme poverty, ostracism, violence, homelessness, ill health and discrimination in law and custom.
 
To give special recognition to the situation of widows of all ages and across regions and cultures, the United Nations General Assembly declared 23 June 2011 as the first-ever International Widows’ Day, to be celebrated annually. 
 

Image from:  Ivorian widows run a small restaurant in Yopougon with the help of the non-governmental organization, Les Compagnes de Ruth.  UN Photo/Ky Chung

 


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