There are 245 million widows around the world, of whom 100 million live in poverty. Together with their dependent children this is a crisis directly affecting some 750 million people. One and a half million children of poor widows will die before they reach the age of five.
source: comprehensive research study recently (Vijay Dutt, Invisible Forgotten Sufferers – the Plight of Widows around the World, with research by Risto F Harma, Loomba Foundation / Konark Publishers, Delhi, 2010),
`Women can be exposed to extensive vulnerabilities when their husbands pass away. Far too many widows are shut out of any inheritance, land tenure, livelihood, social safety net, health care or education...
...Discrimination can take many forms. Widows are sometimes required to conduct their business through male guardians. Widows may be cast out from their communities, forced into marriage or physically abused with impunity. Their children are more likely to drop out of school and become trapped in intergenerational poverty.`
source: Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon on International Widows Day, June 23rd, 2012 (exctract of the message) http://www.un.org/en/events/widowsday/2012/sgmessage.shtml
`Absent in statistics, unnoticed by researchers, neglected by national and local authorities and mostly overlooked by civil society organizations – the situation of widows is, in effect, invisible.
Yet abuse of widows and their children constitutes one of the most serious violations of human rights and obstacles to development today. Millions of the world’s widows endure extreme poverty, ostracism, violence, homelessness, ill health and discrimination in law and custom.
To give special recognition to the situation of widows of all ages and across regions and cultures, the United Nations General Assembly declared 23 June 2011 as the first-ever International Widows’ Day.`
source:United Nations background information for International Widows Day, 23 June