International Widows' Day

Quick Facts - AU

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2024 Date23 June 2024
2025 Date23 June 2025

International Widows' Day

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International Widows' Day History

International Widows' Day is a global observance dedicated to highlighting the struggles faced by widows across the world and raising awareness about the unique challenges they confront. It aims to advocate for their rights, their children's rights, and their full participation in society. The significance of this day extends not just to the grief associated with losing a partner, but also to issues such as poverty, mental health, social stigma, legal challenges, and marginalisation.

The United Nations General Assembly designated International Widows' Day in 2010, recognising the lack of reliable data and effective policies to address the marginalisation experienced by widows. In Australia, a country where social welfare and equality are core values, this day serves as a reminder of the necessity to consider the needs of this often-overlooked group. The observance of this day encourages Australians to reflect on the plight of widows both locally and globally, thus promoting empathy and support towards them.

To mark International Widows' Day, various events are organised by civil society organisations and government agencies in Australia to draw attention to the plight of widows. These activities often involve public awareness campaigns, fundraising drives, and discussions aiming to create lasting change by challenging traditional stereotypes and cultural practices. Australians are encouraged to join in these activities, supporting the cause and helping bring deserved change to the lives of widows around the world. International Widows' Day is observed annually on June 23rd.

Facts about International Widows' Day

  • In some countries, widows are forced to take part in rituals, such as drinking the water used to wash the body of their dead husband or have sex with an in-law or stranger.
  • Women are more likely to be widowed than men for two reasons:
    1) Women live longer than men;
    2) Women tend to marry older men.
  • According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it is estimated that there are over 1.2 million widows in Australia, with a majority of them being women.
  • Widows in Australia are more likely to experience financial hardship than married and single women. Their financial resources can become stretched due to the loss of their spouse's income, superannuation, or pension.

Top things to do in Australia for International Widows' Day

  • Donate or volunteer for Widows and Orphans International. All funds that are donated are used to help support widows in need. There are lots of volunteer opportunities in countries such as Kenya that allow volunteers to help widows and orphans get their lives back on track.
  • Use the hashtags #InternationalWidowsDay, #IWD and #WidowsDay on social media to help spread awareness of the holiday.
  • Watch A Widows Might: Rise of the War Widow (2014). Australian documentary filmmaker Toni Stringer takes a look at the lives of four widows of soldiers killed in action.
  • Read a book to learn more about the experience of widowhood in Australia. Here are our suggestions:
    1. Widows in Australia: A New Way of Living by J. Dale & B. Bamford
    2. Grief, Loss, and Bereavement in Australia by Amanda Gordon and Virginia Hobart
    3. Remarriage in Australia: Patterns and Determinants by Siew-Ean Khoo

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