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A Legacy behind
The Loomba Foundation

The Loomba Foundation also conceived the strategy to create awareness about the issues of widows, their sufferings and humiliating existence. The campaign for awareness and for governments, corporates and people to join our mission was launched by holding International Widows Day on June 23, in London. It caught on and now International Widows Day is held every year in several countries. Every International Widows Day, I am happy to say, creates more awareness among governments and people and more plans are decided to further help them. This has put a smile back on the faces of thousands of widows in various developing countries.

Origin of

The Loomba Foundation
The seeds of the Loomba Foundation’s global campaign to eradicate discrimination against widows can be traced to more than half a century ago in Dhilwan, a small rural town in the State of Punjab in India, when a wealthy local businessman, Jagiri Lal Loomba, succumbed to the still widespread scourge of tuberculosis.

The date was 23 June 1954

There was a tragedy for Jagiri Lal’s wife Pushpa Wati and the seven children of the family – but for their ten year old son Raj, what happened next was a shock that was to stay for the rest of his life. On the very day of his father’s death, his grandmother ordered the young widow to remove her bangles, jewellery and bindi – the sign of a married women – and henceforth to wear only white clothes. From a happy, fulfilled wife, his mother was instantly transformed into a dissolute widow. Years later, when Raj married Veena Chaudhry, he was enraged when the priest asked his mother to sit away from the alter lest, as a widow, she brought bad luck to the young couple, “Why’ he recalled recently ‘a mother gave me birth, a mother who brought me up, who educated me and always wished well for me – how could she bring me bad luck ?

Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba was a strong woman, determined to ensure her children’s prospects were not harmed by this tragedy. Her husband had ensured that the family was provided for. To give her children the best chance in life, Pushpa Wati resolved to devote the whole of their resources to ensuring that all the children, including the girls, received the best education possible, right through to university

Birth of the Foundation

In 1997, five years after Raj Loomba’s mother passed away, Raj and his wife Veena established the Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba Trust – as The Loomba Foundation was initially known in the UK -to care for widows and their children, and to change the culture that discriminates against them. The initial focus was on Raj’s native India, where some 46 million women – almost 10% of the female population of marital age – are widows.


The curse of widowhood often plunges the whole family into destitution and despair, with consequences that blight communities and last for many decades. Raj Loomba saw that if he could find a way of funding the education of the children of poor widows, it would not only transform the conditions of that family but also provide for a better future for all its members.

Loomba Foundation launched its first scholarships
programme to fund the education of poor widows, The Foundation announced its target, that with in a decade it would fund at least 100 children of poor widows-selected purely on the basis of  
need-in each of India’s (then) 29 States. This meant the Foundation hoped to educate 2,900 children by 2009. since then  the Loomba foundation has educated over ten thousand children of poor widows through out India.

Widows' Empowerment

The Loomba Foundation has empowered more than 20,000 impoverished widows in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Syria, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Malawi, Rwanda, Chile and Guatemala. In 2016, we were honoured that the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi launched our project to empower 5,000 widows in his constituency of Varanasi.

In many villages, towns and cities and in numerous countries, it is impossible for widows to find employment – whether because of discrimination or lack of skills – the inevitable consequence is that they must support themselves by other means, and all too often this leads to child labour, prostitution and other forms of exploitation. The Loomba Foundation’s empowerment programme  invests in skills training, equipment and microfinance to help widows set up in business and become independent

Advocacy Worldwide 

The Loomba Foundation launched 23rd June as International Widows Day in 2005 as an annual day of action to raise awareness of the plight of widows are suffering from poverty, illiteracy, diseases, conflict and social injustice around the world. After a tireless five-year campaign, the United Nations unanimously adopted 23rd June as UN international Widows Day at its 65th General Assembly in 2010.

In 2016 we published the World Widows Report, a book that brings together country by country research across more than 40 themes setting out the problems widows face in different countries and in their communities, including old age, disinheritance, economic disempowerment and degrading customs.