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International Widows Day                   June 23rd 2020



The 23rd of June marks “International Widows Day”, a

global observance dedicated to those who have lost their

spouses. Losing a partner is a pain that only those who have

experienced such suffering could possibly understand.

However, despite the horrible loss, widows are subjected to

various human rights violations. 


Therefore the United Nations deemed it necessary to

dedicate a day to acknowledge the suffering of widows

across the world, highlight the unique support they require

and encourage effective action in achieving their full rights. 


This year, the celebration of International Widows Day holds

great importance as the number of widows has doubled

globally as a direct cause of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Statistics indicate that there is an estimated number of 258

million widows around the world, with around one in ten

widows living in poverty. 


Despite the progress made in women's rights, widows

have become an overlooked and excluded community in

society. In various regions around the world, including the

Middle East and North Africa, widows face stigmatization, discrimination, are pushed out of family structures, are evicted from their homes and are at risk of losing access to their inheritance, thus facing consequent destitution. 


Furthermore, harmful traditional practices, discriminatory inheritance laws and negative attitudes and societal perception of widows expose these vulnerable women to economic insecurity, isolation and loneliness. 


Due to the scarcity and unreliability of the available data, much more quantitative data and research into violence and discrimination that widows are being subjected to is required to develop policies and programs to address said issues. 


The Geneva Institute for Human Rights appeals to governments around the world to take the necessary measures in upholding their obligations towards widows, guaranteeing their rights as enshrined in various international instruments such as : the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In addition, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights calls on all states and organisations to enhance awareness on the rights of widows and their important role in society. 


With that being said, the Institute stresses the importance in the implementation of programs and policies to empower widows, allowing them to have access to work, education and healthcare, as well as ensuring that their most fundamental right is respected, to live a life free from violence and abuse. 

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