International Widows' Day

Quick Facts - NZ

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2024 Date23 June 2024
2025 Date23 June 2025

International Widows' Day

International Widows' Day in

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International Widows' Day History

International Widows' Day is a global observance aimed to raise awareness of the issues faced by widows worldwide. The day aims to highlight the societal stigmas and economic and legal obstacles that widows experience in many countries, particularly in developing nations. It also seeks to encourage actions to promote their rights, well-being, and empowerment.

In New Zealand, there are approximately 55,000 widows, with around 12% of the female population aged 65 years and over being widows. They face various challenges, including loneliness, social isolation, financial difficulties, and discrimination. Widows who are also caregivers may have additional responsibilities that impact their physical and mental well-being.

International Widows' Day is typically marked in New Zealand through subtle gestures, such as wearing purple or white ribbons, organizing events that raise awareness of the plight of widows, and sharing relevant stories and messages on social media platforms. However, specific activities that honor widows may vary depending on local traditions and cultural norms. International Widows' Day is observed annually on June 23 each year.

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.
  • Of the widowed population in New Zealand, 17.7% are males and 82.3% are females.
  • According to Stats NZ, the number of people aged 65+ is predicted to double by 2046.

Top things to do in NZ 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 film to learn more about widowhood in New Zealand. Here are our recommendations:
    1. Home by Christmas (2010) - This New Zealand docudrama, directed by Gaylene Preston, is based on the World War II experiences of her father and the impact on his family, including his wife who eventually becomes a widow.
    2. My Wedding and Other Secrets (2011) - Directed by Roseanne Liang, the film tells the story of a young Chinese-New Zealand woman who goes against her parents' wishes to marry her Kiwi boyfriend.
    3. Gardening with Soul (2013) - This documentary directed by Jess Feast showcases the life of Sister Loyola Galvin, a 90-year-old nun, and her work in a New Zealand garden.
  • Read a book about the experience of widowhood in New Zealand. Here are our suggestions:
    1. Life After Loss: Help for Widows in New Zealand by Fiona Neale
    2. Understanding Loss and Grief: A Guide for Counselling and Helping Grieving People by Anne Wroe

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