NEWS FROM WPD, PARTNERS & NETWORK MEMBERS

As the 90th session of the Commission on the Rights of the Child is under way, it is of the utmost importance to reflect on the lack of awareness surrounding the situation of child widows. A child widow refers to a young girl who has been subject to both child marriage and widowhood before the age of eighteen. The intersectional nature of their social standing means they are subject to multiple, intersecting atrocities with little protection of their human rights. Poverty, illiteracy and youth all combine to create an unimaginably difficult situation for these young girls, leaving them suspectable to issues including sex trafficking or child pornography.

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After real concerted pressure from civil society, finally, the word widows appears not once but twice in the Agreed Conclusions of the The sixty-sixth session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66) in March.
Small steps certainly but nevertheless a change!
Widows for Peace through Democracy (WPD) has helped lead the way to pressure, to prompt and to demand that widows are brought out of the shadows, their voices heard and that they are named so that Member States can no longer play ‘blind’ to some of the most vulnerable women in their countries, communities and families…

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It is indeed a triumph to see this Resolution adopted by the UN – it makes our 27-year long struggle worthwhile. This Resolution will also give much confidence to our widow NGOs and WPD Partners and help them to better state their case to their governments. This is a positive step forward, though widows still have many mountains to climb to achieve their full human rights and we will continue to do our utmost ensure that the voices of widows of all ages, throughout the world, are heard at the hightest levels.

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Widows are faced with a unique situation when it comes to climate change. The experience of gender inequality shared by many women globally combined with the perceived ‘burden’ of widows on society serves to create a constant cycle of exclusion and abuse, not just from widows communities but often their own family too, thus removing any support system that may have been accessible without their widowhood status.

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The tearful goodbyes at the Kyiv station may be farewells for ever for those mothers carrying their children to safety.
The brave Ukrainian men staying behind to defend their country risk not just death, but capture, detention and disappearance into distant gulags.
There will be millions of widows, but also “ half-widows “….

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WPD has been shocked beyond words by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the destruction and death being rained down on innocent people.
The following message has been received from Lyudmyla Porokhnyak, Chair of the National Council of Women of Ukraine, a partner organisation…

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CSW 66 parallel event bringing together speakers from Burma, Nepal and Kenya to explore how widows can be and already are sources of empowerment and change in their local communities.
And how widows combat the systemic issues increased by environmental change, destruction, conflict and coronavirus.

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In Myanmar, state terror has been unleashed by the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) which took control of the country on February 1, 2021 in a coup de etat.
Communities such as the Karen, Chin, Rohingya, Mon, Hmong, and Kachin are facing extraordinary problems, because the Tatmadaw mainly targets these groups because of their ethnic and religious identities.
The Rohingya are aware of the ramifications of this type of violence, as their community has a large group of widows residing in Bangladesh.

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As the number of widows and wives of the missing continues to grow, the international community remains silent on this ever-pressing issue. The neglect from national governments and other global institutions, including the United Nations (UN), serves to increase the poverty, displacement and vulnerability that widows and their children face daily…
The plight of widows is something that urgently needs addressing but the lack of official government statistics on the matter adds to the difficulty of grasping a true understanding of just how immense the scale of this issue is.

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Our work urgently needs further funding so that, together with our grassroots partners, we can effectively respond to the devastating impact of COVID-19 on widows and their families.

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