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Empowering Widows: An Overview of policies and programmes in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka
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UN Women is the United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. UN Women supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes and services needed to implement these standards. It stands behind women’s equal participation in all aspects of life focusing on five priority areas: increasing women’s leadership and participation; ending violence against women; engaging in all aspects of peace and security processes; enhancing women’s economic empowerment; and making gender equality central to national development planning and budgeting. UN Women also coordinates and promotes the UN system’s work in advancing gender equality. Widows in South Asia, have diverse socio-economic backgrounds, speak different languages and practice different religions. Numerically too, they vary given the varying population size of the countries in the region. Among the study countries, India has 34 million widows; Nepal, 498,6062 and Sri Lanka, 471,429.3 Yet, widows across the region are bound by similar stories and common experiences. In a traditional and patriarchal society where the identity and value of a woman is determined through her husband, widowhood is much more than merely losing a husband. Many of them have to give up wearing bright clothes for white attire, remove ornamental symbols of their marital status and become strict vegetarians, since it is believed that eating meat arouses sexual desires. Widowers, on the other hand, can carry on with their normal lives and remarry. The discrimination does not end here. Widows in South Asia continue to be treated like social pariahs. Their participation in family life or social functions is not welcomed and their mere presence is considered inauspicious. Among the more superstitious families, a widow is often blamed for the death of her husband and denied property rights.

UNWOMEN ,   (2014 )
Type / Script:
Publication in English
Thematic Group:
 UNWOMEN : Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
14.01.00  -  Advancement Of Women
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