Media Advisory: International Widows’ Day Conference

Date: Wednesday, June 22, 2011

UN Women Media Advisory
For immediate release

Media Contact: Oisika Chakrabarti, Media Specialist, UN Women, oisika.chakrabarti[at], +1 646 781-4522

WHAT: Jointly organized by UN Women and the Government of Gabon, the conference on International Widows' Day brings together a broad range of participants including representatives from diplomatic missions, UN Agencies, international organizations, foundations and the media.

The main objective of the conference is to draw attention to the situation of widows around the world. But more importantly, the conference is intended to mobilize the international community, government decision makers and civil society to address the social climate that perpetuates discrimination against widows and explore how to provide opportunities for widows in their societies. The discussions of this conference will initiate dialogue through which to better understand the situation of widows worldwide and to develop support mechanisms and strategies that respond to the needs of widows.


  • Michelle Bachelet, UN Women Executive Director
  • Sylvia Bongo Ondimba, First Lady of the Gabonese Republic


  • Ms. Gillian Tett, US managing editor of the Financial Times


  • Ms. Purnima Mane, Deputy Executive Director, UNFPA
  • Ms. Ban Soon Taek, wife of the United Nations Secretary-General
  • Ms. Cherie Blair, President, the Loomba Foundation
  • Mr. Amir Dossal, Founder, Global Partnerships Forum
  • Dr. Heidi Hartmann, President, Institute for Women's Policy Research
  • Lord Raj Loomba, Founder and Chairman, the Loomba Foundation
  • Ms. Lyric Thomson, Senior Policy Analyst, Women for Women International
  • H.E. Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of India
  • H.E. Mr. Mohammed Loulichki, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of Morocco
  • Ms. Beatrice Le Fraper Du Hellen, Legal Adviser at the Permanent Mission of France
  • Mr. Bertin A. Babadoudou, Coordinator of the African Group Experts of the 3rd Committee of the General Assembly, Mission of Benin

WHEN: Thursday, June 23, 2011, 10:00-12:00 EDT

WHERE: United Nations Headquarters, North Lawn Building, Conference Room 2, 1st Avenue at East 47th Street, New York, NY 10017

International Widows Day:
Widows are everywhere. They are adults — our mothers, our sisters and our friends — but they are also young — women in the prime of their lives. They are an integral part of every society. Yet, little is known about who they are and the challenges they face. Seldom captured in statistics, unnoticed by researchers, often neglected by laws and development strategies — the situation of widows is, in effect, invisible.

To give special recognition to the situation of widows across all regions, the United Nations General Assembly on 21 December 2010 adopted Resolution 65/189 and declared 23 June as International Widows' Day. Adopted by consensus, the resolution had been initiated by the Government of Gabon and was jointly sponsored by 56 countries. The commemoration of the very first International Widows' Day on 23 June 2011 provides an opportunity to raise awareness of not only the discrimination and challenges faced by widows around the world, but also pay attention to the valuable contributions they make to their communities.