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Uk government urged to lead the world in support for millions of Covid widows

  • This year marks the 10th United Nations’ International Widows Day, founded to take action to address the poverty and injustice faced by widows

  • Covid-19 has disproportionately killed men and people from BAME backgrounds, leaving a large number of women widowed across the UK and globally

LONDON, 23 June 2021: The Prime Minister and leaders from around the world are being urged to support women left marginalised after the deaths of their husbands from Covid-19, ahead of the tenth UN International Widows Day this week.

 Whilst the G7 included many admirable pledges, from Boris Johnson vowing to “ensure this country is a force for good” to world leaders committing one billion vaccine doses for poorer countries and getting 40 million more girls into education by 2026, there was a notable absence to the list – Covid widows.

 For millions of widows from poor backgrounds in countries, particularly across Asia, Africa and South America, it is not unusual for them to be blamed by the family for the husband’s death. As well as dealing with their loss, widows are often abandoned by their in-laws and own families, may face ‘cleansing’ rituals and are left on the margins of society. They are often robbed of their inheritance rights.

 Death rates from Covid are reported to be higher in men than women in many countries, with the ONS recording an almost 18% difference in the total number of deaths for men (63,700) vs women (53,300) in the UK. On top of that, people from BAME and less affluent backgrounds have been disproportionately affected. 

In light of that, crossbench peer Lord Loomba CBE, founder of the global UN NGO the Loomba Foundation which campaigns for the rights of widows worldwide, is calling for the UK government to lead the world in its support for widows as countries rebuild from the devastating impact of the pandemic.

 In the UK Lord Loomba is urging ministers to fund the creation of support groups for Covid-19 widows, and to provide financial and practical assistance for those who have been bereaved as a result of the pandemic. Globally, his foundation, whose president is Cherie Blair CBE QC, is calling for leaders to prioritise educating the children of poor widows and to take steps to empower widows so that they can make a living and regain their dignity.

 International Widows Day, now in its 10th year, was initially launched by the Loomba Foundation at the House of Lords and is now a United Nations recognised day of action to address the poverty and injustice faced by widows in many countries around the world. It was founded by Lord Loomba in memory of his mother, Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba, who became a widow an early age of 37 and succeeded in educating her seven young children single handed.

 On the day of his father’s death, Lord Loomba’s grandmother ordered his mother, a young widow, to remove her bangles, jewellery and bindi – the sign of a married woman – and to wear only white clothes from thereon. Lord Loomba was fortunate as his mother was able to maintain his education, however many across the world do not get that opportunity.

 Lord Loomba CBE, Founder and Chairman Trustee of the Loomba Foundation, said: “It is shocking that widows in many countries still face the same stigma and discrimination today after losing their partner that my mother did over sixty years ago. If the Prime Minister is to make good on his G7 pledge to ‘ensure this country is a force for good’ then the UK needs to show leadership in providing both financial help and practical support for the millions of bereaved widows and their children who face marginalisation from society.” 

The Foundation is calling on the government to:


  • Establish a Covid-19 widows support group in the UK to provide financial support and practical help to overcome bereavement grief.
  • Calling on global leaders to support programmes to educate the children of poor widows and to empower widows so that they can make a living and regain their dignity 

Comment (1)

  1. Shanna Hagenes
    February 2, 2024

    Fantastic article! I learned a lot.

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