International Widows Day, celebrated every year on June 23, is a special day established by the United Nations dedicated to addressing the poverty and injustice faced by millions of widows and their dependents. Did you know that widowhood is more common than you think? Yes, the U.S. Census Bureau says that there are more than 13 million people who have lost a spouse in the U.S. with over 11 million of them being women. Losing your partner is never an easy thing and this International Widows Day, let’s take a stand to create awareness about the situation of widows across the world.
History of International Widows' Day
The United Nations General Assembly adopted June 23 as the official International Widows Day on December 21, 2010. However, International Widows Day had already been observed since 2005 by the Loomba Foundation. Rajinder Loomba, who is a member of the House of Lords in the U.K., founded the Loomba Foundation to work on the issues faced by a woman during widowhood in developing countries. Rajinder was inspired to start this foundation after witnessing the struggles that his mother had to go through when she became a widow at the age of 37 in 1954. Following the launch in 2005, the Loomba Foundation led a five-year global campaign for U.N. recognition. As a result, the United Nations General Assembly made a unanimous decision to adopt International Widows Day as an annual Global Day of Action.
As losing a loved one in any capacity is difficult and traumatic, this day aims to ensure that widows all over the world are given the support they need to go through that incredibly difficult time. Because in many countries, people, especially women who find themselves as widows also find themselves in situations where they are denied their right to inheritance. There are also cultures in different parts of the world where they see widows as being cursed or associated with the practice of witchcraft. This wrong mindset separates them from their community and even from their children.
While no one wants to think about the future death of their spouse, it is critical for every one of us to prepare for any unfortunate and unforeseen events, and most importantly, support those who are in need.
International Widows' Day timeline
Rajinder witnesses his mother facing the struggles of being a widow.
Rajinder establishes the Loomba Foundation to address the issues faced by widows worldwide.
The U.N. General Assembly officially announces June 23 as International Widows Day.
People across the world start to see the struggles faced by widows.
International Widows' Day FAQs
What is the theme of International Women’s Day?
Every year, International Women’s Day is celebrated with a theme. In 2021, the theme was “Invisible Women, Invisible Problems.” The theme for this day will be revealed by the U.N. every year.
What hardships do widows face?
As widows move through their own experiences of grief, loss, and trauma during widowhood, they may also face economic insecurity, discrimination, stigmatization, and harmful traditional practices.
Do most widows remarry?
Yes, approximately 2% of older widows and 20% of older widowers ever remarry. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it is estimated that each year, out of every 1,000 widowed men and women ages 65 and older, only three women and 17 men remarry.
How to Observe International Widows' Day
Spread the word
The best thing you can do to celebrate International Widows Day is by spreading awareness about the injustice and struggles faced by widows across the world. Educate your community about this issue.
Donate to the cause
You can make donations to charities or sponsor a widow or his/her children financially and emotionally, and even help them go to school and study. Remember, even small donations go a long way.
Share your story
If you’re someone who has overcome the hardest phase of your life as a widow or if you know someone who managed to get through that phase, share your story on social media. Let the world know.
5 Things You Need To Know About Widows And Widowhood
The pain can last longer
A widow’s deepest pains last for years before they could return to their normal lives.
They need human connection
A grieving widow usually tends to stay away from people but they crave human connection.
The median age of widowhood
The median age at which widowhood occurs is 59.4.
It’s a stressful event
Widowhood is one of the most stressful life events one can experience.
It leads to poverty
The rate of poverty among elderly widows is four times higher than married counterparts.
Why International Widows' Day is Important
They need help
Often family and friends gather around the grieving individual for a short period, then go on with their lives. But this day reminds us that widowhood doesn’t have an end date and they need our help and support.
It promotes widow rights
International Widows’ Day aims to encourage action in achieving full rights for widows. This highlights the need for more research and statistics into discrimination, poverty, and violence.
It empowers women
International Widows Day also empowers women as in some countries, the rights of a woman are tied solely to her husband. This day empowers women to break the norms and come out stronger.
International Widows' Day dates