International Widows Day - June 23

International Widows Day takes place every year on 23rd June. It was initially launched by the Loomba Foundation at the House of Lords in London in 2005. The date, 23 June, was chosen because on this day, Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba, Lord Loomba’s mother and the inspiration for the Foundation, became a widow.

International Widows Day (IWD) is a global day of focus for effective action to raise awareness and help widows and their children around the world who are suffering through poverty, illiteracy, HIV/AIDS, conflict and social injustice. In 2015 there are an estimated 259 million widows and 585 million children in the world, together with their family members the number is well over a billion people. Through no fault of their own they lose their husband or father and continue to suffer for the rest of their lives through stigma, discrimination and poverty.

On the 22nd December 2010 at the 65th UN General Assembly, the United Nations recognised 23rd June as International Widows Day.

Why the UN recognised International Widows Day:

  • 259 million widows and over 585 million children suffer in silence worldwide
  • Over 115 million widows live in poverty struggling to survive
  •  Many of these women and their children are malnourished, exposed to disease, and subjected to extreme forms of deprivation
  • Widowed women experience targeted murder, rape, prostitution, forced marriage, property theft, eviction, social isolation, and physical abuse
  • 1.5 million widows’ children in the world die before their fifth birthday
  • Children of widows face horrors such as child marriage, illiteracy, loss of schooling, forced labour, human trafficking, homelessness and sexual abuse
  • HIV/AIDS, armed conflict and poverty are amongst the most prolific causes of widowhood
  • Persecution and abuse against widows and their children is not a crisis limited to the developing world, large groups of widows can also be found in Europe, including Russia and Central Asia
  • Widows in developed countries face social isolation and commonly live with severe insecurity and poverty due to lack of affordable health care and employment