NEW YORK: Lord Loomba launched the World Widows Report at the United Nations, New York, last week. The first comprehensive compilation of available research about the plight of widows in several countries, the report shows discrimination against the women that has become a part of several cultures in all continents, and has further promoted extreme poverty, gender-based violence, child labour, discrimination against girls, increased infant mortality and different other events that affect around billions of people across the world.
Lord Loomba, at the launch, warned that Sustainable Development Goals will not be achieved unless urgent action is taken on the issue. After UN Women, in 2001, said that “there is no group more affected by the sin of omission than widows. They are painfully absent from the statistics of many developing countries, and they are rarely mentioned in the multitude of reports on women's poverty, development, health or human rights,” Loomba Foundation actively began to address the issue. The report drafted by the organisation provides governments, NGOs and international organisations with a compelling basis to take effective action, also creating a base for further research.
“Widowhood is a hidden calamity. When an earthquake, tsunami or any other natural calamity happens, the world takes notice. We can measure the number of people who are killed and the financial consequences. The calamity of widowhood is far greater, affecting almost one seventh of humanity, yet it is largely invisible. This report is an attempt to put that right,” said Lord Loomba. From stories of child widows below the age of 10 in parts of India, to widows forced to undergo degrading “cleansing” rituals in African countries, the report's editor Kasper de Graaf outlined all their main findings.