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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Pulumbarit

June 23: International Widows' Day

Updated: Jul 26, 2020

The United Nations estimates that there are 258 million widows worldwide, with about 10 percent living in extreme poverty.

Losing one's life partner is devastating and for many women, the loss is "magnified by a long-term struggle for their basic needs, their human rights and dignity," the UN says.

International Widows' Day was first commemorated in 2011.

The UN resolution on International Widows' Day, signed in 2010, urges countries and organizations to "give special attention to the situation of widows and their children."

The intergovernmental body says economic, social, and cultural issues affect the lives of widows and their children.

Some of the problems the UN cites are the "lack of access to inheritance, land tenure, employment and/or livelihood, social safety nets, health care and education."

In some areas, widows are also forced to take part in "harmful, degrading and even life-threatening traditional practices as part of burial and mourning rites," UN says.

Discrimination, harassment

Meanwhile, the London-based Loomba Foundation has a global campaign to end discrimination against widows.

The foundation was established by Raj Loomba and his wife Veena.

Raj is one of the seven children of Pushpa Wati Loomba, the widow of a wealthy businessman.

Raj cites two acts of discrimination against their mother. First, on the day their father died, their grandmother ordered their mother to wear only white clothes and remove her jewelry and bindi, the colored dot on the forehead, a sign that she is married.

Another incident of discrimination happened against their mother on Raj's wedding day. The priest asked Raj's mother to move away from the altar because as a widow, she might bring bad luck on the young couple.

Raj says he is grateful that their mother was a strong woman who persevered to give them the best education all the way to college.

Loomba Foundation provides skills training to widows to help them and their families.

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