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International Widows’ Day
23 June

Secretary-General’s Message for 2014

No woman should lose her status, livelihood or property when her husband dies, yet millions of widows in our world face persistent abuse, discrimination, disinheritance and destitution.  Many are subjected to harmful practices such as widow burning and “widow cleansing” – an abhorrent ritual which often amounts to rape and increases the widow’s risk of HIV infection.  The impacts are also felt by their children and dependents.

It is our collective responsibility to safeguard the human rights and dignity of widows, in line with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

On International Widow’s Day, let us pledge to take stronger action to empower women, promote gender equality and end all forms of violence against women.  Together, we can eliminate the challenges faced by widows around the world and allow them to realize their potential as equal members of society.

Ban Ki-moon

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