Every year on June 23rd, International Widows’ Day gives special recognition to the situation of widows of all ages across the globe.
The situation for widows is especially dire in developing countries. Some of the problems widows face in these countries include poverty, violence, social stigmatization, and health issues. According to recent statistics, there are about 258 million widows in the world. Nearly one in 10 widows live in extreme poverty. This is because many widows don’t have access to credit or other economic resources, including work.
Widows in developing countries also face high instances of violence. This violence is especially prevalent in Africa and Asia. In these countries, widows are often victims of physical and mental violence. Widows are also forced to engage in life-threatening practices that are part of their husband’s burial rites. For instance, widows may be forced to drink the water their husband’s corpse was washed in.
Due to poor nutrition and lack of adequate shelter, widows often develop health issues. Many widows do not have access to health care. If a widow’s husband died of AIDS, the information may be kept from them. This means some widows might have AIDS or HIV and not even know it. Many women in developing countries lose their husbands to conflict-related situations. If a widow has to flee their country, they struggle to care for themselves and their children in a refugee camp.
HOW TO OBSERVE INTERNATIONAL WIDOWS’ DAY
In the past, the Loomba Foundation, which seeks to care for widows around the world, has held a special dinner to honor widows. Other events have included informational seminars that help to empower widows to have access to work, education, and healthcare. Governments also encourage their countries to uphold national laws to protect the rights of widows.
To participate in this day:
Offer encouragement to a widow that you know.
Read the stories of 4 inspirational widows.
Research famous widows, including Queen Victoria, Jacqueline Kennedy, Coretta Scott King, Yoko Ono, and Laurene Powell Jobs.
Donate to an organization that cares for widows, such as The Modern Widows Club and Widow’s Hope.
Volunteer to help widows in your church or your community.
Spread awareness for this day on social media with #InternationalWidowsDay.
The Loomba Foundation established International Widows Day in 2005. They chose the date June 23rd, as it was the date that the mother of the foundation’s founder, Lord Loomba, became a widow. In December 2010, the UN General Assembly formally adopted June 23rd as International Widows’ Day. The first official UN International Widows Day was held on June 23rd, 2011.