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Widows for Peace through Democracy, (WPD).
Registered Charity Number: 1117334
36 Faroe Road
Shepherds Bush
London
W14 0EP
United Kingdom
 

What We Do As Consultants & Campaigners


  • We act as an umbrella organisation for the various, diverse widows associations and organisations within their countries.
  • We establish networks in partnership with them to exchange information and “best practice”.
  • We raise awareness of the complex issues of widowhood with the UK government, the EU and the UN
  • We explore all avenues to highlight the roles / needs of widows in each country and lobby governments, donors, big NGOs and the international community to address their issues.
  • In the context of the UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008), on women’s roles in peace-building and the elimination of sexual violence, we support efforts of widows’ organisations in the country – e.g. Nepal & Sri Lanka – to have their voices heard at international conferences (e.g. UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the UN Human Rights Commission, Wilton Park, DFID workshops).
  • We actively encourage the establishment of national federations of widows’ groups in every country where widowhood is a problem. The support and training we give empowers these federations to found their own regional groups giving widows a voice at local, national, regional levels. This enables them to monitor the implementation of international and national laws relating to their status, and campaign for law reforms within their own jurisdictions.
  • Our mission is to ensure that widows have a voice at peace negotiation tables, since widows and wives of the disappeared confront specific problems vastly different from those of other women.
  • We believe that “women” are not an “homogenous group” but are composed of many different categories among which the most vulnerable are widows, and are not readily represented by traditional women’s NGOs.
  • We provide training on how to utilise the international and national laws to protect and promote the human rights of widows.
  • Our WIDOWS’ CHARTER provides leverage to inform and influence law reform and the drafting of new constitutions in the post-conflict transition period.

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE

STATISTICS
  • The first priority is to gather reliable statistics on the numbers of widows & wives of the disappeared, as this is essential for effective policy development. Statistics must be collected on ages, the number of children or dependents, circumstances of widowhood, social support systems (family, state, NGO), economic and health status, legal status, status under customary law, experience of violence, and “coping strategies”.
  • Conventional methods of gathering data (census, household & demographic surveys) are inappropriate methodologies for countries in the aftermath of war. Widows are often homeless, or wandering between one relative’s household to another; furthermore, widows, if able to be interviewed on their own, are reluctant to divulge information to strangers.
  • Support and training must be given to widows’ organisations on the ground to undertake simple surveys in a sample of cities, towns, villages and refuge/IDP camps which will reveal the realities of widows’ lives at the grassroots. These mapping & profile projects (already successfully implemented by the widows’ group in Nepal) should be developed in collaboration with the relevant government Ministries.
  • This “capacity building” exercise empowers the widows enhancing their value and status, and builds up their confidence to articulate their needs and participate in decision-making at all levels.
BANDING TOGETHER
  • It is essential that widows “band together”, given their vast numbers, complex / multiple disadvantages, crucial roles as restorers of the family / social structures, and as carers of children, the old and sick.
  • WPD supports widows’ associations to lobby governments, donors, and the international community to focus on this most neglected of all gender and human rights issue.

The hidden lives of Child Widows

Article published by Margaret Owen OBE

http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/margaret-owen/hidden-lives-of-child-widows

Women for Human Rights, along with Pro Public filed for the rights of Vaikalya (child widows) on 28th December, 2009. Vaikalyas are considered worst than widows and have many codes of conducts.

After 3 years of continuous advocacy and lobby from WHR, on 16th May, 2012, the Supreme Court announced that such traditions are ill practices. The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare must establish a working committee to see this practice is eliminated.

The Ministry will also collect data on the number of Vaikalyas and their conditions. It will also raise awareness on this issue and see that various programs are established to empower child widows ( Vaikalyas).

This is a great victory against the tradition of Vaikalyas!

Lily Thapa
Founder
Women for Human Rights, single women group (WHR)
Organisation in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
Baluwatar, Kathmandu, Nepal

*********************

 On the Run ...
with Margaret Owen, OBE ...

The International Criminal Law Bureau Blog has interviewed Margaret Owen OBE as the first feature in our 'On the Run' interview series.

Margaret has recently been made a Door Tenant of the
9 Bedford Walk Chambers
(specialising in ICC and UN tribunals trying war crimes).

Please click on the link below for the interview:

http://www.internationallawbureau.com/blog/?s=margaret+owen
You can also read the article here:
http://www.internationallawbureau.com/blog/?p=4850
Article published by Kathryn Hovington on May 9th, 2012


*********************

IRAQ - MANY WIDOWS - POLYGAMY ISSUES CONSIDERED - DIVISIVE
26 January 2011

By Roula Ayoubi BBC News, Baghdad

Years of conflict in Iraq have left the country with more than one million war widows and a shortage of young unmarried men - pressures that may be bringing about the return of polygamy.

Politicians have suggested financial incentives for men who marry widows

Hanan lost eight members of her family in the war, including her husband, and was left to bring up three children alone.

The experience has not broken her. She continues to work as a hairdresser in her noisy and lively home on Haifa Street in Baghdad .

But she still needs a "man-shelter", she says - and this is why she ended up married to a married man.

"When he proposed to me, he said he was divorced," she says.
"But after we got married, he got back together with his first wife, because he has children with her."

He now stays with Hanan once a week. But while she has only reluctantly accepted a situation where she shares a husband with another woman, some in Iraq are actively promoting the idea of polygamy.

Dignity
It's a practice that became less common in the 20th Century, but politicians put forward a proposal last year to offer married men financial incentives to take on a second wife.

Iraqi widows
•There are estimated to be about one million widows in Iraq
•One in 10 households in Iraq are headed by women, rising to 18% in some districts
•In cities across Iraq , women are harassed for engaging in their professions, wearing clothes deemed inappropriate, or simply stepping out of their homes
Under current Iraqi law, polygamy is illegal unless authorised by a judge - though it is part of the country's Islamic tradition and has been backed in recent years by some religious groups.

In Iraq 's largest province, Anbar, a charity called Angel of Mercy has been helping widows remarry for the last four years. Dozens of marriages have been completed, with the widows often marrying their husband's relatives.

Women's leaders are divided on the subject.

Nada Ibrahim, a member of parliament, supports the idea of polygamous marriage in principle - as long as a husband treats his wives "with justice".

However, she also believes that the government should provide more support for widows, to make it easier for them to survive without men.

"Widows are often young and don't have jobs, health insurance or social security. We shouldn't encourage them only to get married," she says.

Hana Edwar of the Amal charity also believes that the government should help widows financially to enable them to decide their own fate. She's firmly opposed to polygamous marriage.
"It's about women's dignity," she says. "Women need to be educated about their rights."
Women in illegal second marriages are often "in an inferior situation where they are unprotected and prone to abuse by men", she adds.
But one of Hanan's reasons for remarrying was that she felt unprotected as a widow.

Pregnancy
"I used to feel vulnerable with no support, afraid that anyone could attack me and anyone could harass me," she says.
"In the beginning I used to feel angry - I used to cry”
"A man's protection is like a shelter. And this is what a woman needs from a man."
Unlike some widows, she is capable of supporting her children alone.
Her second husband, Mostafa, a friend of her first husband's, offered her much-needed support after his death in 2005. They married a year ago.
She says she had to accept his reconciliation with his first wife, because she could not come between him and his children.
Another factor influencing her feelings was her own pregnancy with Mostafa's child.
"The little foetus in my womb ended our problems and made us accept things and stop arguing," she says.
"In the beginning I used to feel angry. I used to cry. But I learned how to cope. What do I gain from my situation if I keep feeling angry and sad? I need to accept the reality." 

WUNRN
http://www.wunrn.com
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12266986


Any further information, please contact: Margaret Owen, (Director, WPD) email: director.wpd@gmail.com