Human Rights Council Rights, Peace & Justice

WFWPI Statement on Deteriorating Human Rights Situation of Widows in Ukraine

Please read the statement below from WFWPI on the Deteriorating Human Rights Situation of Widows in Ukraine.

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Biovision – New Book on Tranformation of our food systems

Biovision is pleased to announce an important new book which can be downloaded free of charge at The authors were supported in the publication of the book by the Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development (CH) and the Future Foundation for Agriculture (D). Please feel free to forward to your networks.

Transformation of Our Food Systems
The COVID-19 pandemic exposes sharp injustices and system wide failures of today’s prevailing food and agriculture systems, injustices that have been accelerating over the past decade; the most destructive period of food production and consumption in modern history. In their new book “Transformation of our food systems – the making of a paradigm shift”, 40 international experts describe the highlights and trends in food production since 2009, when the ground breaking International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development Report (IAASTD) was published.

The critical new book calls for an urgent, accelerated transformation of our food systems. Dr. Hans Herren, Biovision Foundation’s president, former World Food Prize winner and co-president of the IAASTD, researcher and expert in agroecology, is the initiator and co-editor. “This book clearly proves from various perspectives that the agroecological approach is by far the most important and fundamental pathway to ‘build back better’ (after COVID-19) and to make the shift towards sustainable food systems,” says Herren. Co-editor Benny Haerlin, says of the book “it not only talks about transformation, it also shows how it can be done and where it is already happening.”

The book is published in the run-up to this year’s only virtual High Level Special Event of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), where for the first time agroecology will be at the centre of discussions and where decision-makers will also reflect about global efforts needed to “build back better”. The book is also a critical contribution to the “Food Systems Summit 2021”, being organized under the auspices of the United Nations.

More information is available here:

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International Council of Women – International Day of Peace Statement 2020

Click HERE to view and download the full document 

(Founded 1888)

Statement to Mark the International Day of Peace – 21 September 2020

“Shaping Peace Together” – as profoundly simple as it is profoundly important. Chosen by
the United Nations this year to mark International Day of Peace, this theme strengthens the
notion of cooperative commitment in the pursuit of peace. The call is for solid global
engagement in building the peaceful and prosperous future that people deserve, especially
today, when millions of people around the world struggle to overcome the turmoil, hardship,
and disequilibrium caused by COVID 19.

To respond to the UN Secretary-General’s appeal, in a spirit of solidarity and compassion, unity
and mutual assistance, the International Council of Women (ICW-CIF) partners proudly in the
global work we undertake and emphatically in the pursuit of peace. Our approach is one of
inclusiveness and empowerment. Clearly, peace can only grow, and stand the test of time, if it
has deep roots in our societies. For that, women are needed more than ever, because each
woman herself can be a fundamental agent of change regardless of her societal status. This
element of inclusion is essential for shaping values of peace and tolerance and is a key
component in preventing violence and conflict. It is also extremely important in the struggle
against the unprecedented global health crisis we are facing now, a crisis which has made
vulnerable people even more vulnerable and weaker… and which has unfortunately contributed
to increased violence, racism and hate.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. The
resolution addresses not only the inordinate impact of war on women, but mainly the pivotal
role women should, and do, play in conflict management and achievement of sustainable peace.
Through our national council affiliates worldwide, ICW-CIF plays a vital role by mobilizing
public opinion and by initiating programs for training, providing information and suggesting
courses of action. This effort also incorporates a focus on the whole concept of Peace – what it
is, and how we all have to work together in shaping it.

Meeting basic needs and development objectives, together with promoting gender equality and
social justice, is an essential step toward peace, but human needs are not limited to food and
shelter. They include freedom, self-determination and proper balance between individual and
collective rights. What is required therefore is a climate of mutual understanding, respect for
others’ rights and a high degree of equality in which individuals and communities can develop
and cooperate rather than function in a confrontational mode. Bearing in mind the fact that, as
stated in the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 “…civilians, particularly women and
children, account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict….” our
commitment to peace must be an on-going element in all our activities, and an underlying basis
for providing assistance to women in need whenever possible. We thus continue to demand
gender-responsive approaches based on equality which help transform the gender roles, norms
and structures which act as barriers to achieving well-being for everyone.

Let us remind our ICW-CIF members around the world, and others who share our resolve, of
the wisdom of Mother Teresa of Calcutta when she said: “Women are bound to be the tools of
peace, the workers and I should even say the tireless fairies striving for Peace and Development.
It is up to us women, to answer this challenge…” This is our responsibility and we, women of
the world, will continue to dream and to act in ways that will make those dreams come true. Let
us pledge to do our utmost to contribute to the achievement of all Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs), and specifically to SDG 16, which puts the emphasis on peace and justice.
Let us shape Peace together!

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Women Federation for World Peace: International Day of Peace Webinar, 21-22 September 2020

Click HERE to view and download the full document

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Widows’ Rights International – Overview – 2019

Click HERE to view and download the full document 

Widows Rights International, Wixamtree, Sand Lane, Northill, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire SG18 9AD
+44 1767 627626 Registered Charity: 1069142


Widows Rights International (WRI) is a long established organisation fighting for the
rights of widows all over the world. We have recently concentrated on sub-Saharan
Africa. Conflict, disease and early marriage have increased the number of widows
across the globe with young women and girls becoming widows as well as women
throughout the life cycle. In addition to those women whose husbands have died,
there in an ever increasing number of women who are heading households due to
conflict and migration, where the situation of their husbands is unknown and they are
de facto widows.

In no country are widows and widowers treated equally but only in some regions do
widows have to tolerate the acceptance of the abuse of widows at both local and
national levels. The belief in the natural inferiority of women contributes to this, but
so also does the perversion of inhumane and degrading practices which have grown
up in very different economic and political conditions around the globe.

Widows are organising to break the silence but they need support. Provision of
information is critical. As a UK registered charity, Widows Rights International (WRI)
has provided support through its website, newsletter and network of local widows
groups, concerned lawyers and human right activists. It shares information on
successful strategies and tactics that have enabled widows to challenge their
despoilment and win court cases, to ensure that their governments translate
international human rights commitments into legislation, and to see that legislation is
implemented at the grassroots level. However there is still much work to be done as
abusive widowhood practices are still deeply embedded in many cultures.

WRI is the leading source of information on widows. We compile the stories of
widows and the organisations that help them. We are seeking to increase our data
base of organisations and individuals working for widows and female headed
households, together with their stories of overcoming the challenges that face them
in addition to the case studies of legal victories. This web-based and interactive
platform will enable greater exchange of vital information for all those concerned
with challenging the abuse of widows.

WRI disseminates this information through our regular newsletter and we seek to
increase this information flow by seeking out new sources of information as well as
intensifying our use of media and social media.

We have recently concentrated on sub-Saharan Africa because of the intense abuse
of widows includes degrading and harmful mourning rites. These harmful practices
are not only in direct contravention of international agreements, such as CEDAW, and
national legislation based on such agreements but with the HIV/Aids pandemic, are
also a considerable threat to national health.

WRI has been involved in the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and the
Committee on the Convention of the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against
Women. We have organised delegations to attend these UN processes and have
organised events to raise awareness of the plight of widows but also to celebrate
their achievements. We have enabled widows and representatives of organisations
working for widows from Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Algeria, Iraq, Kurdistan, Sudan,
Egypt, Nepal to attend CSW to have a voice at the UN. We continue to seek to
provide opportunities for widows themselves to speak out about their concerns and
their achievements. We continue to work to influence policy at the international
level in regard to widows. Within the framework of Agenda 2030 and the concept of
“leave no one behind” we are working to raise awareness of the importance of “last
woman first” and were co-founders of the Global Alliance for Last Woman First, as
widows the world over are the poorest and most discriminated against. WRI has been
involved in raising awareness on the issue of widows in the UK and has held several
briefings for parliamentarians in the Houses of Parliament, both Commons and
Lords. We seek to continue and expand this work. We are planning events with think
tanks in the UK and working with Commonwealth partners. WRI recently provided a
“lunch and learn” for DFID personnel to increase awareness of the situation of
widows worldwide.

WRI has undertaken research on the situation of widows and we seek to increase this
research in order to gain valuable data to influence policy.

WRI has been very successful in fundraising for widows organisations. Women of
Purpose is a successful organisation in Uganda which has grown in strength and reach
since the seed funding provided by WRI. This is one example of the many organisations helping thousands of women and girls that WRI has enabled. We seek  to expand this fund raising work to assist those organisations too small and underresourced to achieve success to raise funds on their own. The aim is to accompany  them until they become social enterprises developing a sustainable fiscal strategy.

Our goals are to:
§ Support the international campaign to end harmful cultural practices which
ignore the human rights of widows and lead to their dire poverty and social
§ Raise awareness and understanding of the discrimination and violence
encountered by widows in many countries.
§ Continue to advocate for widows’ rights to be integrated into the human rights
agendas of national and international agencies.
§ Promote the emergence of a vibrant and informed network of community
based groups, widows’ groups, NGOs, lawyers and human rights activists
working on widowhood issues.

Human Rights Council Rights, Peace & Justice Violence against Women and Girls

Widows’ Rights International – 41st session of the Human Rights Council Written Statement on Early and Forced Marriage

Please click HERE to view and download the full written statement 

Widows Rights International (WRI), Wixamtree, Sand Lane, Northill, SG18 9AD, UK

41st Session – Human Rights Council

Written statement on Early, Forced and Child Marriage

Widows all over the world are the victims of early, forced and child marriage but their situation is  hidden.

Child marriage is allegedly banned in most of the world. However, the United Nations Population Fund estimates there are 650 million girls and women alive today who were married before they were 18 years old. There are many reasons for this. For example, in situations of poverty, girls are  seen as a burden on the family’s meagre resources and the temptation of a dowry upon their  marriage can provide some comfort to the family.

These girls and women lack physical, psychological, legal or social protection. Local laws forbidding  early or child marriage may be unclear, not policed or absent. In terms of forced marriage, this  might relate to girls who fall pregnant through choice or rape being forced to marry the man  involved in order for their families to avoid social stigma.

While the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that “a child means every  human being below the age of eighteen years…” the definition continues with a condition “unless  under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.” So children may be under 18 or  younger, depending on the jurisdiction. In countries even where there is rule of law, this clause engenders disparity and tolerance of abusive local practices towards children and teenagers. For  many reasons, including flight as a refugee due to conflict or natural disaster, the formal recording of  births and marriages does not routinely happen or paper trails are lost. This means that it is difficult  to prove a person’s age, which again muddies their status in the eyes of international law.

Marriage or living in the role of “wife” may involve degrading sexual and emotional abuse. If the  men die, these girls then face social isolation, further abusive practices, extreme poverty and  invisibility. Their potential contribution to society is lost as they are deemed worthless. The term “widow” is subject to unconscious bias, as for many people it means someone of mature  years but in reality among the 300 million widows many are still children under the UN definition,  and many are aged between 10 and 13. The Declaration of the Rights of the Child acknowledges that “the child, by reason of his physical and  mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before  as well as after birth.”

The existence of child and early marriage may be considered contrary to international doctrine especially given the requirement for “special safeguards and care”, but the resulting medical impact  on girls whose bodies are not yet fully developed for childbirth, the risk of disease from their (much) older partner and their subsequent traumatic descent into widowhood need greater publicity and  consideration at the highest levels of society.  Widows’ Rights International urges governments meeting at the 41st session of the Human Rights  Council to liaise with civil society in their countries to obtain disaggregated data on the numbers and status of widows and to join the Commission on the Status of Women meeting in its 63rd session in  March 2019, in strongly condemning “all forms of violence against all women and girls, which is  rooted in historical and structural inequality and unequal power relations between men and women.  It reiterates that violence against women and girls in all its forms and manifestations, in public and  private spheres, including sexual and gender-based violence, domestic violence and harmful  practices such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation, are pervasive,  under-recognized and underreported, particularly at the community level.2

”1 accessed 2/6/19
2 Agreed conclusions of UN CSW63. accessed 2/6/19

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Widows’ Rights International: Importance of the Media Especially to Rural Widows: to Ensure Last Woman First – March 2018

Click HERE to view and download the full event flyer

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Widows’ Rights International: Economic Empowerment for Widows and Female Headed Households: Lessons Learnt from the MDGs

Click HERE to view and download the full document

Events Human Rights Council Panel Event Rights, Peace & Justice

Human Rights Council 23rd Session – Side Event on Traditional Values – Culture – Religion – Women’s Human Rights

On 30 May 2013 14:00-16:00 – Room VIII, Palais des Nation.


Distinguished Speakers:

  • UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights – Ms. Farida Shaheed – Invited
  • Dr. Krishna Ahoojapatel – WILPF – Definition of Traditional Values
  • Mr. Willy Fautre – Chair, Human Rights Without Frontiers International
  • Ms. Lois A. Herman – WUNRN-Women’s UN Report Network – History, Intersections, UN Study
  • Ms. Zarizana Abdul Aziz – Due Diligence Project, Co-Director
  • Dr. Lale Say,  World Health Organization, Coordinator Reproductive Health & Research
  • Mr. Peter Prove – Ecumenical Advisory Alliance, Executive Director

Moderator: Dr. Adebisi Adebayo – Inter-African Committee Geneva

Co-sponors: Due Diligence Project, IAC, INPEA, World YWCA, WUNRN

Download: Events Flyer


Advocacy work Panel Event Rights, Peace & Justice Thematic Forums

Pre-side Event to the Review Process of UN SCR 1325 : Public Discussion: “10 years after UN SCR 1325: Conflict Prevention Mechanisms” with Ms Mary Robinson

On 2 September 2010, the Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, chaired by Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS) and co-chaired by Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), organized, as a pre-side Event to the review process of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, a panel discussion on the mechanisms of Prevention.


  • Ms Mary Robinson, President, Realizing Rights; Member, Council of Elders; UN High Commissioner for Human Rights 1997-2002; President of Ireland 1990-1997
  • Ms Bineta Diop, Executive Director, Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS)
  • Ms Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, General Secretary, World YWCA

Chair:  Ms Madeleine Rees, Secretary General, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)


The Event flyer can be downloaded here.