"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."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Some 40 million widows live in India, 15,000 alone, on the streets of the Holy City of Vrindavan. Above, a widow prays to a shrine - a tulsi tree - on the grounds of the Ashram.
Photo credit: Joaquim Vieira
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, to be celebrated annually.
India: Forgotten Women