Today, there are over 245 million women across the world who have been widowed and 115 million out of the total number live under extreme conditions of poverty. Simply put, widows are people who have been through the unfortunate tragedy of losing their partners and women widows are often ignored and marginalized as soon as they are widowed. In tough times like these, rather than supporting them through the ordeal, societies across the world shun widows who face social exclusion for the rest of their lives. In order to remind people about the large number women who suffer in silence after the death of their partner and highlight the problems they face as a consequence, today, 23rd June is observed as International Widows Day.
Designated by the United Nations, this day aims to highlight the abuse that widows are subjected to and propel people to initiate action against the same. Widows are more vulnerable to violence from members of their late partners’ families and are often also associated with witchcraft and bad luck. They suffer gross human rights violations and are left with little or no monetary support, pushing them into poverty while they struggle to sustain themselves and their orphaned children. Women are also abandoned by their partners’ families and are get no share of the property that is rightfully theirs, leaving them with absolutely no economic backing. While a lot of the women lose their partners to natural causes and accidents, a growing number of women are widowed in areas of conflict like the Democratic Republic of Congo where almost 50% of the women population was widowed in light of the ongoing armed conflict.
Although, widows and their problems have been sidelined for a long time now, things seem to be changing in today’s time. With the growing awareness about this section of the society a number of organizations have committed to helping widows get access to their rights and live as a part of the society like everyone else. At CSR we believe that no woman should have to lose her rights when she loses her partner and must be empowered by the society that helps her become independent and able enough to sustain herself and her children. In addition to this, as members of the society we must make conscious efforts to stop stigmatizing widows and educate as many people as we can about the same. Irrespective of their marital conditions and tragedies, women make up a large part of the world’s population and have immense potential to contribute to the development of their countries. Societies must acknowledge this fact and work towards empowering widows to live again and build a life for themselves and their children.