Why does a widow have to fight for her status or rights, after the demise of her husband? It may seem as one of those normal questions but the answer is attached with many social taboos and lack of equal rights. To raise a voice for these deprived widows, June 23 is observed as International Widows’ Day Globally.
The day is marked to recognize the situation of widows of all ages across the world. The first International Widows Day was observed by the Loomba Foundation in 2005 with an aim to sensitise the society about widowhood. Later with a resolution passed by the UN General Assembly in December 2010, 23 June is formally recognized as International Widows Day.
International Widows Day Theme 2022
The Theme of Year 2022 is : “Sustainable Solutions for Widows Financial Independence”
The theme of 2022 is focused on the financial needs of widows and the possible solutions and policies to address them. It basically highlights the unresolved hurdles on the way of widows’ rights around the world. To encourage people to come forward to protect the rights of widows and stand high with them against social stigmas and injustice is the main objective behind the theme.
The Global Statistics on Widows
According to the data of the UN database the situation of widows is dire especially in developing countries. Situations like poverty, violence, lack of education and social stigmas contribute to making the condition worse. According to the official website of the United Nations Organisation, the figures are shocking:
- There are approximately 258 million widows all around the world.
- One in every 10 women is forced to live in extreme poverty.
- Many of them have no access to credit and employment opportunities for finances.
- From 2010 to 2015 there has been an increase of 9% in numbers of widows.
- The three main regions present the highest number of widow populations in the world. East Asia and Pacific represents 31.8 percent of the total, with 22.4 percent in South Asia and 17.6 percent in Europe and Russia.
- The number of widows in developing countries like China and India is shocking, representing 35.2% of the total global population of widows.
Policies And Pension Schemes For Widows in India
To uplift the vulnerable situation of widows and destitute widows in India, the Indian government launched some policies to provide them financial aid and basic access to education, work, healthcare and a life of dignity, free from abuse and violence. These policies are helpful in providing them a fair share of property, inherited resources, widow pensions and social protection. So let’s have a look at these policies beneficial for widows.
Swadhar Greh Scheme: The scheme is launched by the ministry of Women and Child Development especially for the destitute women to provide them shelter, food, clothing, counselling, vocational training and legal aid. As per 2021-22 data, around 8163 women are living in the Swadhar Greh. It is focused on the rehabilitation of girls rendered homeless due to family discord or any unfortunate situation, by empowering them economically.
The Mahila Shakti Kendra Scheme: It is an initiative of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.It was started to encourage rural women for community participation to enhance their skill and knowledge so that they can realise their full potentia.
One Stop Centres: Also known as Sakhi Centres provides help to women affected by violence by providing them integrated facilities under one roof such as medical aid, police facilitation, shelter, legal counselling etc.
Home for Widows: A Home for widows is set up in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh. With a capacity of 1000 inmates It’s a place to stay with facilities like health services, nutritious food, legal and counselling services.
Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme: The scheme aims to widows who come under BPL Category. It is a sub-scheme under the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) of the Ministry of Rural Development. Initially a financial aid of Rs.300/- per month is provided to widows in the age group of 40-79 years and on attaining the age of 80 years the amount is increased to Rs.500 per month.
The National Social Assistance Programme: It is sponsored by the central government as a target for destitute women. Under this scheme a financial assistance of Rs. 200 – 300/- is provided in pension to senior citizens (60 years and above), widows (40-79 years) and for disabled persons by the GoI.
Atal Pension Yojana: Through this scheme the government wants to create a social security system for all Indians. Anyone with a savings bank account in a bank or post office, ranging in the age group of 18 to 40 years is eligible for this scheme.
Integrated Programme for Older Persons: To improve the quality of life of senior citizens and for their security the scheme is implemented. It is to provide some basic facilities like shelter, food, medical care and entertainment opportunities with the help of State/ UT Governments/Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)/Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs)/ local bodies.
Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY): it was launched in September 2018. It is the world’s largest health assurance scheme providing a coverage of Rs.5 lakh.
Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan (PM-SYM): The scheme is focused on the unorganised workers of old age who are not covered under any other pension scheme. On attaining the age of 60 years every eligible person receives 3000/- per month. In case of the death of the person receiving the pension benefits, his or her dependent becomes eligible to get 50% of the pension.
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(With Inputs from careerindia)