New Delhi, June 23: To loss a partner in a life can’t be expressed in words how he or she felt. Several women around the world after losing her life partner faces challenges and do long-term struggle for basic needs, their human right and dignity.
The pandemic has just worsened the situation during the past several months with a devastating human loss, and one that is likely leaving tens of thousands of women newly widowed at just the time when they are cut off from their usual socio-economic and family supports.
Experience from past pandemics, for example HIV/AIDS and Ebola, shows that widows are often denied inheritance rights, have their property grabbed after the death of a partner, and can face extreme stigma and discrimination, as perceived ‘carriers’ of disease.
In the context of lockdowns and economic closures, widows may not have access to bank accounts and pensions to pay for healthcare if they too become ill or to support themselves and their children. With lone-mother families and single older women already particularly vulnerable to poverty, this is an area that needs urgent attention.
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.
International Widows Day was established by The Loomba Foundation[clarification needed] 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.
International Widow’s Day 2020
The United Nations observes 23 June as International Widows Day (resolution A/RES/65/189) since 2011, to draw attention to the voices and experiences of widows and to galvanize the unique support that they need.
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 United States, the UK, Nepal, Syria, Kenya, India, Bangladesh and South Africa.