Human Rights Council Violence against Women and Girls

Statement by WFWPI Addressing the Situation of Honor Crimes in Jordan

Please read the statement below by WFWPI Addressing the Situation of Honor Crimes in Jordan.

Advocacy work Committee Communications Committee Information Events Members Bulletin Other Panel Event Violence against Women and Girls Women's Health

Widows’ Rights International : Child widows and young widows – 4 September 2020

Click HERE to view and download the full document 

Advocacy work Committee Communications Committee Information Members Bulletin Report Rights, Peace & Justice Violence against Women and Girls

Widows’ Rights International – Overview – 2019

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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

Advocacy work Campaign Committee Communications Violence against Women and Girls

Advocacy Toolkit: 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

Let’s work together to harness the power of the 16 Days of Activism and demand an ILO convention to end gender-based violence in the world of work. 

Now in its 27th year, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) will begin on 25 November and run through 10 December, Human Rights Day.

To support your advocacy work and ideation around this, Graduate Women International (a member of the NGO CSW Geneva) has created an impactful and easy-to-use advocacy campaign toolkit. The toolkit includes compelling and valuable information about the 16 Days of Activism, facts about GBV, relevant connections between the Sustainable Development Goals and GBV, simple advocacy ideas, press releases, comprehensive social media campaign covering the 16 days complete with Facebook posts, cover photos, infographics, Tweets, Days to Observe and more.

To read the 16 Days of Activism Toolkit, click on the following link: 2018: 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence GWI Toolkit

Remember, no action is too small!

Together We Can Eliminate Gender-Based Violence! 

2018 Advocacy Toolkit: 16 Days of Activism

Advocacy work Committee Communications Committee Information CSW Economic Empowerment & Employment Events Panel Event Rights, Peace & Justice Violence against Women and Girls

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

Advocacy work Events Panel Event Violence against Women and Girls

International Conference to end FGM – From Goals to Action on FGM: Working Together to Bridge Gaps – on 10-11 May 2016

Flyer - FGM Conference IAC May 2016The NGO CSW Geneva is happy to support this 2 day conference organized on 10-11 May by one of its member the Inter-African Committee.

The conference is structured around the following:

  • Best practices against FGM
  • Legal frameworks, policies & action: Stock-taking & Gaps
  • Research, data and advocacy
  • Strengthening partnerships and stakeholder networking
  • Challenges to ending FGM incl. in diaspora:political, socio–economic and religious factors
  • Call to Action & Way forward
Advocacy work Committee Communications Committee Information CSW Economic Empowerment & Employment Other Panel Event Violence against Women and Girls Women's Health

Widows’ Rights International : Past, Present and Future: widowhood: What we have learnt and what is left to do – March 2015

Click HERE to view and download the full event flyer

Events Other Violence against Women and Girls

Human Rights Council 25th Session: Women’s Rights Caucus on Child, Early and Forced Marriage on 6 March 2014

NGO CSW Geneva hosted a Women’s Rights Caucus during the UN Human Rights Council 25th Session that focussed on Child, Early and Forced Marriage.


  • Mirriam Michelo, survivor of child marriage, young woman from the YWCA of Zambia.
  • Adwoa Kufuor, Human Rights Officer at the Women’s Rights and Gender Division, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Facilitator: Marie-Claude Julsaint, Global Programme Manager for Violence against Women, World YWCA.

Download: Event Flyer

Events Panel Event Violence against Women and Girls

International Day on Zero Tolerance to FGM – 6 February 2014

On the international day on zero tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the NGO CSW Geneva has sponsored an event organized by the Inter African Committee on

Synergy of actions by governments, the international community and civil society to accelerate the achievement of zero tolerance to FGM.


  • H.E. Jean-Marie Ehouzou, permanent observer of the AFRICAN UNION
  • H:E. Steffen Kongstad, permanent representative of Norway
  • H.E. Fodé Seck, permanent representative of Senegal
  • H.E. Paurizio Enrico Luigi Serra, Permanent representative of Italy
  • H.e. Minelik Alemu Getahun, Permanent representetaive of Ethiopia
  • Mrs. Nyaradzayi General Secretary of World YWCA
  • Representatives of UNFPA, UNICEF, OHCHR, WHO and other international organizations based in Geneva

Moderator: Adebisi Adebayo, Inter African Committee (IAC)

See also the flyer