International Widows Day is an opportunity for action towards achieving full rights and recognition for widows around the world. The lack of reliable hard data remains one of the major obstacles to developing the policies and programmes to address the poverty, violence and discrimination suffered by widows in many parts of the world. There is a need for more research and statistics disaggregated by marital status, sex and age, in order to help reveal the incidence of widow abuse and illustrate the situation of widows. According to the UN, "Governments should take action to uphold their commitments to ensure the rights of widows as enshrined in international law, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Even when national laws exist to protect the rights of widows, weaknesses in the judicial systems of many States compromise how widows’ rights are defended in practice and should be addressed. Lack of awareness and discrimination by judicial officials can cause widows to avoid turning to the justice system to seek reparations."
Ombudsman Peter Tyndall recently published the first casebook for County Clare. He was asked to examine the case of a widow who, after her husbands death, wasn't informed of her entitlement to Household Benefits Package.
New provisions allowing Leaving Certificate students who suffer a close family bereavement during the state examinations in June to sit alternative papers in July.
The new Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has reminded families that the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance will be made available again this year, and urged families who are not automatically entitled to make an application before the August deadline. “The support provided through the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance helps parents with the cost of the new school year. The Department of Social Protection has allocated €38.8 million for the payments this year. I want to remind families who do not automatically receive the allowance that they can still make an application before the August deadline,” Minister Varadkar said.
The Loneliness Taskforce was established by Dr. Keith Swanick in collaboration with the CEO of ALONE, Seán Moynihan, to coordinate a response to the epidemic of loneliness and social isolation in Ireland. Through its work, the Loneliness Taskforce is seeking to increase awareness about the issue and to produce a set of recommendations for Government, state agencies and all policy makers. Over 300 submissions have been received by the Taskforce sent from the general public, Oireachtas and Northern Ireland Assembly Members, MEPs, NGOs, Local Authorities, Public Participation Networks, and Volunteer Networks across the country, both North and South. The establishment of the Taskforce has created a much-needed national conversation on the loneliness and social isolation faced by people in Ireland.
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.
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