The often overlooked plight of widows worldwide is observed today.
Around the world, women who have lost their husbands to illness or war face a number of challenges, and not all of them have their family to support them when they do.
Losing a loved one in any capacity is difficult and traumatic, and this day aims to ensure that widows are given the support they need to go through an incredibly difficult time, and ensure widows maintain full rights and recognition in their country.
The History of International Widows Day
In many countries, women who suddenly find themselves as widows also find themselves in situations where they are denied their right to inheritance monies or inherited land rights.
Some are subjected to life-threatening, degrading or painful mourning practices and burial rites when their husband passes. Some will be taken from their homes or separated from their children, denied work and access to healthcare.
Unfortunately, in some countries, the rights of a woman are tied solely to her husband. When her husband dies she may find herself without a place in society. It is not uncommon for women in these situations to be forced into marrying another male relative of their husband’s.
There are cultures which see widows as being cursed or associated with the practice of witchcraft, which of course sees them separated from their community and often outcast along with their children.
International Widow’s Day seeks to stop this ostracizing and better educate communities regarding the needs of vulnerable women such as widows and empower them to have access to healthcare and education for their children.
This day became a globally recognized day in 2010, started by the 65th UN General Assembly.
How to Observe International Widows Day
Today, governments across the world are reminded to ensure that the rights of widows are included in international laws, and that judicial systems uphold them.
You can make donations to charities or sponsor a widow or her children, and help them go to school. Even small donations can go a long way, and any awareness you can whip up to get the word out there about the plight of widows across the world is truly valuable.
Many charities, such as Oxfam and Muslim Aid, ensure that part of their donations goes to helping widowed women in underdeveloped countries.
Make sure you spread the word on International Widows Day by using the hashtag #internationalwidowsday on your social networking profiles.