International Widows' Day
annually on June 23rd (since 2011)
United Nations General Assembly on November 4th, 2010
International Widows’ Day was adopted by the United Nations in 2010, and was held on June 23rd the following year. Prior to being officially recognized by the United Nations, it had been held by the Loomba Foundation since 2005, which had been working for its adoption at the UN. The foundation, set up by Raj Loomba, was created in his mother’s memory. She became a widow on June 23, 1954, which is why the day is held when it is. The day “is an opportunity for action towards achieving full rights and recognition for widows.” The aim is to raise awareness of the effects, many times invisible, of widowhood on women throughout the world. In many countries, the rights of women are upended once they become widows. They may experience abuse, loss of inheritance and land rights, and loss of social status. They may be shamed or killed. Most times the wrong done to widows is left unpunished, as it is may be upheld by cultural or religious beliefs. As widows are negatively affected, so are their children. Children sometimes are pulled out of school in order to provide labor, and they experience emotional and economic hardships.
How to Observe
The day should be observed by reflecting on the work that needs to be done around the world to reduce the plight of widows. It is a day to fight for more research on widows so data can be collected and policies can be implemented. It is a day to work against violence and poverty, and to work for healthcare and education for widows and their children. The Loomba Foundation has some information on how to get involved and donate. Also, if you personally know a widow, this a day to remind them that you are there for them.