BPW International

Making a Difference Through Leadership and Action.

Parallel Event on Rural Widowhood, Wednesday,February 29th, 2012; Boss Room, Church Centre, 2.30 pm - 4.00pm

To: UN, International Community, Governments, and CEDAW

  • Appoint a Special Representative on Widowhood (in Conflict Zones)
  • Commission a Special Report on Widowhood in Developing/Conflict afflicted countries
  • UN Women should establish a special section to address widowhood issues in context of human rights/VAW/poverty reduction/conflict resolution and peace building
  • Adopt a UN Resolution on Widowhood
  • Acknowledge rural widows as sub-sect of women experiencing special forms of abuse that require specific  responses and remedies
  • Support widows' groups through resources for their empowerment, and fill gap in data
  • Acknowledge that abuse of rural widows of all ages is one of root causes of poverty, hunger, homelessness and GBV
  • Address the impact of rural widowhood on the girl child
  • Address widow-abuse as a major issue in combating GBV


To: Governments and UN WOMEN

  • Mainstream widowhood issues in all gender/equality/Human Rights policies and laws
  • Ensure implementation of International and modern laws to eliminate discrimination against widows take precedence over discriminatory customs and traditions
  • Criminalise discriminatory and abusive practices perpetrated against widows
  • Provide for all land registrations to be in wives' names as well as husbands'
  • Prohibit "land grabbing" by multinationals and industry, or "gifts" of land to political allies, where such land could be available to women heads of households.
  • Support widows' to "band together" to form their own associations so as to have:

. a collective voice to articulate needs and describe roles
. fill gap in data through "mapping and profiling" themselves
. access literacy, education, training, services, justice
. be represented in appropriate decision-making committees
. be consulted, and contribute to strategies to implement


  • Criminalise actions that deprive widows of their inheritance, property, and land rights: such as "chasing-off" and "property-grabbing"
  • Criminalise coercion of HTPs including harmful and degrading mourning and burial rites
  • Develop special "land allocation" schemes, and registration of title  to ensure rural widows can own and cultivate land for food security
  • Develop extension services and income-generating strategies that will enable rural widows to remain in their villages
  • Devise systems to ensure widows enjoy pensions, social security and micro- credit
  • Identify economic and sexual exploitation of widows and their daughters in rural areas and as migrants to urban centers
  • Protect widows from physical, sexual, and psychological violence.
  • Address the specific needs for resettlement and rehabilitation of conflict widows in IDP and refugee camps
  • Use all means to remove stereotyping and stigma of widowhood.

Leading Empowerment

The Women's Empowerment Principles are a set of Principles for business offering guidance on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. They are the result of a collaboration between the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the United Nations Global Compact.

Leading Equality

Empowering women in the workplace includes ensuring that there is equal pay for work of equal value.  Women - regardless of which country they are living in - don´t get the same wages as men. Equal Pay Day marks the period of extra days in the current year that women need to work in order to achieve the same wages that their male counterparts earned during the previous financial year. More...

Leading Entrepreneurship

BPW International supports the Global Platform for Action on Sourcing from Women Vendors as a means to empowering women in business, particularly in the marketplace.  As an inaugural member of the Steering Committee for the Women Vendor Exhibition & Forum, BPW International works with the International Trade Centre to match vendors with buyers.