Women in the World

115 Million Widows Live in Poverty

More than 115 million widows worldwide live in poverty, according to a new study launched by Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The number is close to half of the global total of 245 million widows, and includes the 2 million in Afghanistan and 740,000 in Iraq widowed by the wars there. In many areas, widows are pushed to the margins of society, often cheated out of their inheritance from their late husbands and unable to care for their children. The report, commissioned by the Loomba Foundation, finds that widows are often accused of murder of witchcraft and forced out of their homes and often raped. They have few resources to turn to, and their kids often fare poorly, victims of disease, human traffickers, and homelessness. The countries with the most widows are China with 43 million, India with 42.4 million, the United States with 13.6 million, and Indonesia with 9.4 million. The foundation is urging the U.N. to make June 23 International Widows Day.