Victim Assistance and Widowhood

Posted on June 23, 2015

Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor “Victim Assistance and Widowhood”  (23 June – International Widows’ Day)

On 23 June the international community recognizes the rights of widows and the need to address the poverty and injustice they and their dependents face in many countries:

Absent in statistics, unnoticed by researchers, neglected by national and local authorities and mostly overlooked by civil society organizations – the situation of widows is, in effect, invisible.

This International Widows’ Day description of the global situation of widows applies equally to the victim assistance context and must necessarily be a cause for concern and greater action. This commemoration is an opportunity for highlighting the relevance of victim assistance to respecting, protecting, fulfilling, and promoting the rights of widows who are victims of mines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war (ERW). It is also a reminder of the importance of fully applying the victim assistance principles of non-discrimination and gender-sensitivity.

The needs of widows have largely been overlooked among efforts to provide assistance for mine/ERW victims, even though States Parties have obligations under the Mine Ban Treaty and Convention on Cluster Munitions to ensure that the rights and needs of mine/ERW widows are met in accordance with relevant international law. Yet there is little information about how States Parties themselves are meeting those obligations.

A lack of accurate and usable disaggregated data is among the barriers to effective victim assistance for widows. Of the few victim assistance projects that include widows, the majority are focused on livelihood support and income-generation. In some countries, national laws and policies contain provisions for widows, yet these are for the most part focused on particular categories and are therefore, in effect, discriminatory.

States Parties have obligations to ensure that the rights and needs of women directly and indirectly affected by the impact of mines, cluster munitions, and ERW are adequately met, including widows. To effectively fulfill the rights and needs of widows, states should ensure that victim assistance programs are gender-sensitive and actively reach out to widows as well as mine/ERW survivors and other family members of people killed and injured.

Download report as a PDF

Banner image (c) Loren Persi/ICBL-CMC Survivor Network Project

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