June 23 was declared as the International Widows’ Day at a conference at the UN in 2011.
According to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, “No woman should lose her rights when she loses her husband.”
Some 40 million of the world’s widows live in India. Their plight is often invisible, as many people are unaware of the troubles faced by those abandoned by their families.
While eight percent of women in India are widows, only 2.5 percent of men are widowers, due to the fact that men usually remarry.
Vrindavan is home to thousands of widows from West Bengal. Their condition used to be pitiable till the Supreme Court intervened and NGO Sulabh International took up the challenge to ameliorate their plight.
The lives of around a thousand widows has remarkably improved with the intervention of the court.
Sulabh takes care of all such widows living in six government-run ashrams.
Sulabh International founder Bindeshwar Pathak recently drafted a bill for the protection of widows in the country, and hopes Prime Minister Modi will pay attention to the widows’ plight.
Along with widows from Vrindavan, Pathak is planning to meet Modi to push for the introduction of the draft bill in the budget session.