International Widows’ Day 2020 will be observed on Tuesday, 23rd June 2020. This is an awareness day that is observed throughout the world to discuss the hardships that widows face when their husbands die. Apart from this international day, a National Widows’ Day is also observed on the 3rd of May every year in the United States. Whether it is National Widows’ Day or International Widows’ Day, both days are designated to highlight the problems of widows and encourage people to help widows in struggling against the challenges of life.
Widows are a major issue of our time as there are around 258 million widows throughout the world according to the official website of the United Nations Organization (UNO). India has the largest number of widows which is around 46 million, according to Emma Batha’s article Which country has the largest number of widows? (2015) published by the World Economic Forum website. Moreover, Indian widows are one of the most pathetic communities of the country and the world as a whole. International Widows’ Day is celebrated on 23rd of June because (the founder of the day) Raj Loomba’s father Shri Jagiri Lal Loomba died on 23rd June 1954 leaving Raj’s mother as a widow.
International Widows’ Day Theme 2020
“Invisible Women, Invisible Problems”
Theme 2020 for International Widows’ Day is “Invisible Women, Invisible Problems”. The United Nations acknowledges that widows are invisible to policymakers when they draw out national policies to address the problems of citizens. Policies focus upon common citizens, laborers, jobless youth, and other suffering segments of society however widows are not considered worthy to be discussed in policy-making meetings. This is a condemnable act that more than 258 million people are ignored categorically by the policymakers only because they are widows. Traditionally, widows are considered a useless asset of society because they get involved in the battle of survival and they can do little in terms of major tasks. Currently, global leadership united at the UNO platform discourages any such expression and it is argued that widows can do a lot for their nations if their energy and potential are channelized. It is essential to liberate them from the threat of basic needs scarcity so that they would perform productive tasks. Theme 2020 of International Widows’ Day stresses upon highlighting the issues of this ignored community to make the world more beautiful.
UN Resolution on International Widows’ Day
In its 65th General Assembly session, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution A/RES/65/189 that explains the designation of International Widows’ Day. An excerpt from the resolution document has been quoted below.
“The General Assembly,
Recalling all its relevant resolutions, including the United Nations Millennium Declaration,….,
Recalling also the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women, ….,
Recognizing that all aspects of the lives of widowed women and their children
are, in many parts of the world, negatively affected by various economic, social and cultural factors, including lack of access to inheritance, land tenure, employment
and/or livelihood, social safety nets, health care, and education, …,
Decides, with effect from 2011, to observe International Widows’ Day on
23 June each year; ….,”
71st plenary meeting
21 December 2010.
(Source: The United Nations website)
History and Background
Loomba Foundation is credited with celebrating International Widow’s Day for the first time back in 2005. Loomba Foundation was founded by Raj Loomba and Indian national. In 1997, Raj along with his wife Veena Choudhary founded Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba Trust in the UK and then renamed it as the Loomba Foundation. The official website of the Loomba Foundation reveals the story of Raj Loomba which motivated him to struggle for the rights of widows all over the world. Raj Loomba expresses that he was the fortunate child of a rich father and beautiful caring mother Pushpa Wati Loomba who became unfortunate soon after the death of her loving husband Shri Jagiri Lal Loomba due to tuberculosis in 1954. Raj also shares that her mother who raised him in the best possible way and made it possible for him to start a fashion business in the UK was not allowed to enter the Mandap (wedding place) of her son Raj. It happened because the priest told that she would bring misfortune to the newly wedded couple. Raj wonders what kind of discrimination poor widows would have been going through if his rich mother experienced such a humiliation. These were motives behind the struggle of Raj Loomba to get an international day designated for widows of the world.
Loomba received much admiration among governmental and non-governmental organizations in India and abroad. The government of India helped Raj Loomba to convince the international community to acknowledge the hardships faced by widows and take measures to address those challenges. Finally, on 21st December 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution designating a day for widows with a purpose to eradicate the “poverty and injustice faced by millions of widows and their dependents in many countries”. The United Nations has also added the goal of liberating widows from social discrimination into Sustainable Development Goals because it would be a lie to claim that we have solved the issues of women without addressing the issues of widows.
Why International Widows’ Day important?
International Widows’ Day is important because it spreads awareness about the challenges widows face worldwide and helps us to find ways to help those widows. After all, they are part of our society, thus our lives. It seems that policymakers of the national governments do not acknowledge the miseries of widows. They make policies for other vulnerable segments of society however widows are ignored categorically. This day helps the activists to stress upon policymakers to make policies in favor of this vulnerable community.
International Widows’ Day is important because it breaks the traditional stigma that widows are untouchables; that they bring misfortune, that they are waste of society, that they are a burden on national wealth, that they cannot play a productive role in the well-being of society, that they do not have the right to remarry. After all, they are born unfortunate, that they should not be given importance in society because they have been deprived of their husbands by God (or gods). This day is very important to break all these stigmas that have caused a lot of unending harm to these vulnerable human beings. The day is important to encourage heartbroken widows to stop crying for their husbands and start supporting themselves to solve their problems on their own.
International Widows’ Day and COVID-19 Pandemic
This year, national and international policymakers must take solid measures to address the issues of the existing widows and must explore the more women who become widows after their men are succumbing to fatal Corona Virus COVID-19. Additionally, it should also be considered that a lot of people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic including widows. As a matter of fact, widows do not earn much in our society and their income does little to support them satisfactorily; therefore, we must arrange funds on an international, national, and individual level to support them. Widows are locked into their houses with empty hands and stomach, we must search for such suffering ladies and help them.
What happens if someone’s husband die?
In almost every country in the world, a woman is left with depression, sadness, frustration, too many responsibilities, and social discrimination when her husband dies. The pain of losing her husband does not disappear and people start judging her character as well as fate. All children look towards their mother for their needs who herself is left with empty hands. People try to use the widow sexually if she is young because they feel fearless. If a man dies without leaving a fortune in her hands, what happens usually is that she faces sexual harassment and her children are left unsecured in the lap of corrupt people. Neither her husband’s family cares about her nor her own parents like to get her back. This happens in many countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Middle East, and South America. Widows face less discrimination in more educated societies however discrimination exists.
What should we do on International Widows’ Day?
International Widows Day Activities
International Widows’ Day is not a public holiday and public life stays normal on this day except for some seminars that are attended by people and arranged by NGOs, Government Institutions, and the UNO. You can plan many activities on International Widows Day according to your priorities. Some ideas have been discussed below that you can consider:
i. Search for widows in your neighborhood and help them as much as you can. You can give them some money, find them a job, or raise funds for them.
ii. Read articles about the miseries of widows and share them with your friends and followers.
iii. Spread awareness about the importance of the day using the way of communication you use like Social Media, Electronic Media, and/or Print Media.
iv. Share quotes relevant to International Widows’ Day.
v. Follow and promote Social Media trends like #InternationalWidowsDay, #WidowsDay, #LoombaFoundation, #UNInternationalDays, #WidowsProblems, #WomensRights, and #Widows.
International Widows’ Day Quotes
Quotes help to understand and convey a message in the shortest way. It is an impressive way to share quotes on International Widows Day to promote the message of the day. You can consider sharing the following quotes:
i. “May a man live well-enough and long-enough, to leave many joyful widows behind him.” – (Roman Payne, Cities & Countries)
ii. “Widowers marry again because it makes their lives easier. Widows often don’t, because it makes their lives harder. [p. 61]” – (Siri Hustvedt, The Summer Without Men)
iii. “Young widows are always a painful sight to see. Jilted brides are even more pitiful than young widows—at least widows had been loved and cherished.” – (Cristiane Serruya, Not A Book)
iv. “I think the first of the children. What the hell am I supposed to tell them? Then I think about money, the house, all those things no widow will tell you ever crossed her mind.” – (Shannon Celebi)
v. “A widow is a fascinating being with the flavor of maturity, the spice of experience, the piquancy of novelty, the tang of practiced coquetry, and the halo of one man’s approval.” – (Helen Rowland)