International Conference on Widowhood "Widows' Voices- Empowered"
The International Conference on Widowhood "Widows' Voices- Empowered" was held on 24th and 25th of June, 2010 at Hotel Park Village, Budhanilkantha, Kathmandu, Nepal. Organized by Women for Human Rights, single women group (WHR), the conference was a platform to establish an international voice on the status of widows in order to effectively strategize on the equality for widows.
The conference started with the peace rally and formally inaugurated by the chief guest Honourable Minister Sarwadev Prasad Ojha, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare. The book "Journey towards Empowerment and The Status of Single Women in Nepal" published by WHR was also formally launched during the conference.
Over 200 participants comprised of representatives from 13 countries, Nepal Government officials, International Organization leaders and representatives from 68 districts of Nepal came together for the two day conference. The countries representing in the conference were Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Germany, India, Italy, Nepal, Pakistan, Scotland, Sri Lanka, United States of America and United Kingdom. Each representative country reported on the status of widows in their state. While the situations of widows around the world varies, the country wise presentations made it clear that single women should unite together to support each other and promote single women’s right to equality.
To begin with, Lily Thapa, Founder President of WHR welcomed all the participants and highlighted the objective of the conference.The keynote speakers for the conference were Anuradha Wichramasinghe, President of Small Fishers Federation, Sri Lanka and Core Committee Member of SANWED, Astalaxmi Shakya, the Former Minister of Nepal, Dr. Masuma Hasan, Board Member of AURAT Foundation and member of SANWED, Pakistan, Dr. Mohini Giri, Chairperson, Guild of Service, India, Lars Peter Christensen, Program Coordinator, DanidaHUGOU, Margaret Owen, Director of WPD, U.K. and International Focal Person of SANWED, Nainkala Thapa, Chairperson of National Women’s Commission, Nepal.and Lily Thapa, Founder President of WHR.
There was a plenary session with presentation by Lily Thapa, Founder President, WHR; Margaret Owen, Director, WPD and Dr. Mohini Giri, Founder, Guild of Service who are the pacesetters of the single women's movement. The women addressed the foundation of the single women's movement as well as its future and focused on the greatest issues facing the movement today.
The participants also had group discussions on the topics - Role of Widows in Peace Building and Conflict Management; Ways to Mobilize Resources for Widows Focusing on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); Mobilizing Single Women for Reducing Gender Based Violence; Significance of Human Rights for the Protection of Widows' Rights.
The International and distinguished delegates of the conference had an opportunity to meet with Rt. Honourable President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, the first president of Nepal. The meeting marked an important step by the government recognizing and showing support for the single women's movement.
One of the major highlights of the conference was the presentation of the Kathmandu Declaration
(Please click here to download "The Kathmandu Widows Declaration"). The declaration will be used to raise greater awareness of single women's issues at the government level in order to address the needs of and provide support to widows. The declaration demands
- the elimination of all discrimination against widows, in family, community and public life;
- the acknowledgement and adequate support for their social and economic roles;
- the right for all widows to access justice to empower them to remedy the wrongs they have experienced and
- the criminalization of all actions that deny widows' their fundamental rights
With the enthusiastic support of the...