Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Emerging Issue - suggestion "Widowhood"

as the next “emerging issue” for the 57th UN CSW

Each year, at the CSW, an "emerging issue" is identified, selected in response to the trends, developments, and new approaches to issues affecting the situation of women, or equality between women and men, that urgently require a focused consideration from which can emerge recommendations thereon.

One of the most neglected of all gender and human rights issues is widowhood.  In recent decades, the numbers of widows of all ages have risen unprecedentedly due to armed conflict, HIV and AIDS, harmful traditional practices (child marriages to older men), and the increase in elderly population worldwide where the majority of older people are women/widows. In developing countries and conflict afflicted zones especially widows experience extreme stigma, discrimination, abuse and violence but often are unable to access justice systems for their protection or support. Widows are the poorest of the poor and their poverty and marginalization deprives their children of their human rights to shelter, food, education, and future employment and life quality.  The global economic crisis is also affecting widows dependent on pensions and state support in developed countries. The Beijing Platform of Action makes no reference to widowhood and this ever-increasing sub-sect of women, who have crucial roles as sole parents and heads of household, have not had the attention of governments they deserve. Neglecting this gender and human rights issue affects the whole of society and its future, frustrating other initiatives to reduce poverty, eliminate GBV, and promote justice and democracy without which there can be no stability or peace.

UK Women’s NGOs, meeting in Bristol on July 10th, 2012, agreed unanimously to request HMG to propose WIDOWHOOD as the next emerging issue for the 57th CSW, through its membership of the European Block. Other women’s and widows’ NGOs are also lobbying their governments to take up this proposal. UNWomenUK has forwarded this proposal to the UNWOMEN office in New York. The UK’s support for it would greatly strengthen this campaign.
To support this initiative and for further information:
Contact: Margaret Owen WPD or

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