Widows in Crisis & Conflict Panel – UN Human Rights Council 42 (09/20/2019)
Date: September 13, 2019
UN Human Rights Council Session 42
WIDOWS IN CRISIS & CONFLICT
September 20, 2019
3:30 – 4:30 pm
Palais des Nations – Room XXII
PANEL PARTICIPANTS & WIDOWS ADVOCACY COALITION:
*Ms. Caroline Ouaffo Wafang, Advisor on Women’s Rights, Women’s Human Rights & Gender
Section, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – Confirmed
*Ms. Esther Eghobamien-Mshelia, UN CEDAW Committee Member from Nigeria – Statement
*Ms. Margaret Owen, UK – Barrister – Founder & Director, Widows for Peace Through
*Widows Advocacy at the UN Security Council & UN Commission on the Status of Women –
Global Fund for Widows
*Dr. Mohinder Watson, Action on Child, Early and Forced Marriage/ICW-CIF – Child Widows
*Widows & Beijing + 25
*Dr. Lori A. Post, Northwestern University Medical School – Research on Widows in Africa
*Ms. Roseline Orwa, Rona Foundation Kenya – Widows’ Harmful Traditional Practices Video
*Advocacy for a CEDAW Committee General Recommendation on Widows, UN Human
Rights Council Resolution on Widows, & Appointment of a UN Independent Expert on Widows
*Global Alliance-Last Woman First – Meera Khanna, Guild of Service & Core Founders –
Moderator: Ms. Lois A. Herman, Managing Director WUNRN, Women’s UN Report Network
WIDOWS IN CRISIS & CONFLICT PANEL – CONCEPT STATEMENT
Widows are exponentially increasing in numbers, and continue to be one of the most neglected of human rights issues.
Widows of all ages, are pervasively subjected to stigmatization, extreme poverty, marginalization, harmful practices, and violations of their human rights, survival, dignity.
Wars and conflicts, diseases, migration and displacement, child marriages, natural disasters, and climate change, have resulted in a dramatic escalation of numbers of widows of all ages, around the world. And, there is a growing number of “half widows,” who do not know if their husbands, missing in conflict, are alive or dead. Widows in conflict and war may be “left behind,” when others escape as IDP’s or refugees. Widows in conflict zones may end up as beggars, prostitutes, or sequential wives in polygamous marriages, just to support their children and survive.
This Widows Panel will build on serious focused advocacy of a core group of dedicated individuals and programs, over years, to address the invisibility, social injustices, and lack of political and public will to provide widows of all ages with the dignified legal, economic, civil, and social rights they are entitled.
This Parallel Event also will build on the steps forward on widows’ advocacy made at the recent UN Commission on the Status of Women Session 63 in NYC. Two High Level Panels focused on widows’ issues and rights. At CSW 63, widows for the first time ever were noted in the Draft Agreed Conclusions.
This Human Rights Council Session 42 Widows’ Panel will introduce empirical research on violence against widows in Africa and beyond. Such research can move forward policies to address widowhood.
Our HRC 42 Panel will specifically call for data on widows, for widows’ “mapping” as a catalyst for government engagement and policies. The Panel will clearly describe the need for widows’ documentation of birth and marriage, for records of husbands’ death, for land and property and inheritance rights.
We are in touch with Governments, Special Rapporteurs, and UN Mechanisms that can relate to widows and their children, and catalyze attention and initiatives for widows’ human rights. We are advocating for a UN CEDAW Committee General Recommendation on Widows, a UN Human Rights Council Resolution on Widows, and a UN Independent Expert on Widows.
We believe that providing widows with their deserved rights will enable them to emerge from poverty and discrimination, to persevere in crises and conflicts, to become agents of change and development, now and for the future.