Widows' Day & Yoko
Independent Films, Women
Yoko Ono was at the United Nations (UN) commemorating the first-ever International Widow’s Day today (23 June) with a panel discussion featuring UN Secretary-General’s wife Ban Soon-taek, Executive Director of UN Women Michele Bachelet, First Day of Gabon Sylvia Bongo Ondimba and President of the Loomba Foundation Cherie Blair.
Addressing an audience of delegates and representatives from the civil society, Bachelet, who organized the event, said that there was an increasing number of widows in the world especially in “the context of armed conflicts around the world as well as the HIV and AIDS epidemic.”
The UN reports that there are approximately 245 million widows in the world, more than 115 million live in extreme poverty, and that in countries affected by conflict, women are frequently widowed young, thrusting upon them the heavy burden of caring for children, often in environments of unrest, displacement and lack of support.
Taking about the plight of widows around the world, the First Lady of Gabon Sylvia Bongo Ondimba said “expelled from their homes, stripped of their goods, they must summon all their courage and energy to not only over come the loss of their partners but also to continue to satisfy the needs of their children.”
To give special recognition to the situation of widows of all ages and across regions and cultures, the General Assembly declared 23 June 2011 as the first-ever International Widows’ Day in December 2010.
President of Loomba Foundation and former First Lady of the United Kingdom, Cherie Blair said the commemoration “is, in one sense, a celebration” because “the UN is acknowledging the plight of widows across the world.”
In a written message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged societies to ease the hardship that widows endure when their husbands die by respecting their rights to such social entitlements as access to inheritance, land tenure, employment and other means of livelihood.
He added that all widows should be protected by the rights enshrined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and other international human rights treaties.
His wife, Ban Soon-taek, addressed the panel and asked all stakeholders to “stay engaged in the year ahead to help the world’s widows and their children.”
She added “let us keep pushing forward and meet next year to review progress and continue our efforts to give women who suffered their husbands’ deaths a great life of their own, the life they deserve.”
According to the UN, empowering widows through access to adequate healthcare, education, decent work, full participation in decision-making and public life, and lives free of violence and abuse, would give them a chance to build a secure life after bereavement.
Yesterday evening Yoko Ono, the renowned artist and the widow of John Lennon, opened an art exhibit featuring the work of London-based artist Reeta Sarkar. The exhibit was a tribute to women and mothers around the world.
While addressing patrons, she said “as a widow I’ve known the pain of losing my soul-mate” adding that “until I was well into being a widow myself I had no idea what being a widow meant in some parts of the world.”
The exhibit was sponsored by both Ono and the Loomba Foundation, a leading non-governmental organization dedicated to widow’s awareness and rights.
Year of Production: 2011
Length: 2:30 mins.
Country: United Nations
Widows' Day & Yoko by DiplomaticallyIncorrect is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 License.
- Muhamed Sacirbey (UNTV)
- Susan Sacirbey (UNTV)