There are some 259 million widows around the world, and nearly half are living in poverty. Widows are often stigmatized by their families and communities. Many suffer discrimination based on age and gender. Some have lived lives marked by physical and sexual abuse.
Older widows often have few economic assets, after a lifetime of hard but unpaid work. Even in developed countries, the value of women’s pensions can be some 40 per cent lower than men’s.
Younger widows face other challenges, as heads of households with childcare responsibilities and very limited economic opportunities.