From scratch the surface
However, merely having a vision backed by the intent to end the discrimination against widows is a drop in the ocean. This must be followed by action, serious initiatives, well thought out schemes and laws which should be implemented with the help of governments.
Add to this the fact that some fundamental changes need to be brought about in deep-rooted cultures and traditions all around the world which can finally help to change the perception of the people. Neither of these will be possible if we do not have sufficient data and evidence to prove that the condition of widows is deplorable. This is both possible and attainable but only if it is backed by information, research and data on the subject.
This was the thought process that led to Loomba Foundation’s initiative of launching a research programme to coincide with the ‘International Widows Day’. The research programme was designed to primarily address this ‘omission-culture’, as one would term it, as well as expose the level of discrimination that comes with it, the goal being to discover its genesis, its many forms and the impact it has on the economies of the world.
In 2008, the ‘Royal Institute for International Affairs’ at Chatham House in London and the WorldPublicOpinion.org international survey organization managed by the ‘Program for Public Consultation in Washington’ D.C, were commissioned by the Loomba Foundation to highlight international bias and attitudes towards widowhood. It was important to gather reliable and credible information. As it turned out the results were quite alarming.
Amongst the 18 countries polled, around a dozen saw 40% of the respondents reporting unbecoming behavior and the disadvantages they, as widows, faced. Six out of ten respondents the world over stated that widows were badly treated by the society even as they articulated their struggles and the challenges they face on a daily basis. When the different responses were accumulated and collated geographically, they corroborated the deprivation and unfair treatment that widows are subjected to. Their suffering is neither country specific nor culture, society or region specific; it is kind of universal and only varies in magnitude and versions.
As a result of the survey, Loomba Foundation undertook a far broader and ambitious project and one that was the first of its kind: to present a global picture of the prevailing scenario about the treatment of widows to enable necessary and useful action which would result in improving their life and living conditions.