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“. The day takes place annually on June 23rd.
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.
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 that 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.
The United Nations observes June 23 as International Widows Day (resolution A/RES/65/189) since 2011.