UN General Assembly Adopts Seminal Legislation on Widows' Rights

Originally Published on AllAfrica.com
March 17, 2022

The text was adopted by consensus paving the way for increased attention to their human rights violations as well as emphasizing their important contributions to peacebuilding and local economies.

The UN General Assembly adopted “Addressing the Situation of Widows,” the first-ever UN Resolution on widowhood by consensus on Tuesday, March 15, 2022. The resolution, initially proposed by Sierra Leone, was co-sponsored by the African Group of States, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.

In some parts of the world, widows experience human rights violations and harmful practices such as disinheritance and institutional discrimination that limits their ability to access justice, decent work, and social protections. Some widows also endure degrading harmful practices such as levirate – forced remarriage to an in-law – and other forms of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.

This resolution aims to provide Member States with specific and actionable steps to draw awareness to, mainstream, legitimize, and protect the rights of widows within the United Nations system and at home, and includes calls for enhanced data collection, registration of all marriages in order to provide women with legal and social protections in the event of widowhood, condemn and prevent violence incurred by widows, among other components directly tied to the advancement of women and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The text also envisions widows as powerful actors in the communities and countries, acknowledging their economic contributions and need for financial inclusion as well as calling for their full, equal, and meaningful participation in peacebuilding and recovery discussions, a move that will strengthen the inclusivity and equity within societies to build lasting and sustainable peace.

About the Global Fund for Widows:

GLOBAL FUND FOR WIDOWS (GFW) is the world’s largest international non-profit organization dedicated to economically empowering widows and is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in New York City. We dedicate our work to financial inclusion programs for widows in Africa, the Middle East, and India, as well as their children through our financial inclusion programs. Additionally, GFW also advocates on public policy, leveraging its success in the field to mainstream widowhood as a human rights issue at the United Nations and countries of operations.

Our microbanks, otherwise known as WISALAs (Widows’ Savings and Loan Associations), have been extremely well-received by both sovereign governments as well as the women and families whom it supports. To date, we have enrolled over 20,000 widows in our program.


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To find out more about what we do and how we are tackling issues around widowhood in our countries of programming and around the world, please contact us below.