On the International Widows Day on 23 June 2013, Muslim Aid expressed solidarity with organisations and institutions that provide help and support to widows and their dependants around the world. There are an estimated 245 million widows worldwide and almost half of them are living under poverty. Most of them are victims of conflicts and natural disasters, including poverty which takes its toll on human lives due to lack of clean water and hygiene, poor medical care and fatal accidents caused by inadequate health and safety systems. These women also face injustice and cultural discrimination, as well as making them extremely vulnerable.
As conflicts have continued in many parts of the world, the number of widows has also continued to increase as a consequence. Resolving conflicts is one sure way of ensuring that countries are able to improve their circumstances by focusing on development.
A spokesperson at Muslim Aid said: ‘’Helping widows and looking after their orphan children is not just an act of charity but also our civic duty and social responsibility. Empowering these women through education, skills development and micro-credit programmes enables them to take control of their lives and make informed decisions about their future. They need to be supported through housing, social care and employment opportunities to make up for the loss of their bread winners. It is also vital that they do not feel secluded from the society because of their unfortunate circumstances.”
Muslim Aid’s child support programme provides constant assistance to many widows in educating and nurturing their children. In addition, the interest free credit given to widows through micro finance programme enables them to be self-sufficient and live with dignity. In Bosnia, Muslim Aid provided business courses for disadvantaged women which included widows who were forced to fend for themselves as bread winners, single mothers, war victims and victims of domestic violence. In Iraq, Muslim Aid has provided sewing training to women who were widowed during the conflict in Iraq and were internally displaced, which opened job and business opportunities for them.