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International Widows Day - 2021


Officially adopted as International Widow Day by the United National General Assembly on December 23, 2010, the 23rd of June provides the opportunity to raise awareness on the unique situation of widows across the world, recognize their important role in society, as well as empower women and protect their rights. Prior to the official recognition by the United Nations, this special day was established and recognized by the Loomba Foundation, an NGO dedicated to improving the lives of widows.


The loss of a significant other is an unimaginable pain. As they silently suffer, they are vulnerable to various social and economic issues and their fundamental rights are often threatened, which are issues that have been further exacerbated by the covid-19 pandemic.


Within that context, it is estimated that at least one in ten widows live in poverty. Moreover, widows are often stigmatized and discriminated against, and in some cases are denied inheritance rights.

"Often left without savings or any other income support, widows have been especially exposed to the sudden loss of employment during the pandemic, creating immediate and acute financial vulnerability, with serious consequences that range from food insecurity to increased susceptibility to human trafficking," Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka - Executive Director of UN Women.


According to the United Nations, there are more than 258 million widows across the globe. Hence, the theme of 2021 is “Invisible Women, Invisible Problems” - highlighting the unfortunate fact that those who have lost their partners have been historically unsupported and dismissed.


The celebration of International Widows day stresses on the importance of solidarity in the presence of adversity and hardship and encourages a unified effort towards ensuring that widows are protected and are able to access their basic human rights.


Nevertheless, in order to effectively address cases of violations against widows, reliable data is required. However, in many communities, the scarcity and undependability of the available data has hindered the development of policies and programs aimed at solving issues of poverty, violence and discrimination.


Within that regard, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights calls on all states, organizations and individuals to work diligently towards enabling widows with the resources and information to access their inalienable and fundamental human rights, including the provision of a fair share of their inheritance, land and productive resources.


Moreover, the Institute seizes the opportunity to urge governments to take the necessary measures to fulfill their obligations in guaranteeing the rights of widows, as stipulated in the provisions of international human rights law, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


Finally, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights affirms its commitment to implementing programs, policies and the development of action plans to aid in ending violence and injustice practiced against widows and their dependents, alleviate poverty, ensure education, and provide other forms of necessary support, to contribute to sustainable development, security and stability.

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