Global Resources

Widowhood and Older Women

Publisher: HelpAge International
Publication Date: May 2000
Widows in India comprise 8 percent of the female population, with 64 percent aged over 80 years. As in other countries, there are many more widows than widowers because more men die before their wives, and widowed men are much more likely to remarry. This study shows that women become economically and socially isolated upon the death of their husband. Discriminatory laws deny their inheritance rights, they lack access to social security and their employment opportunities (without an adult male in the household to share income generation activities with) are severely restricted. Compared to married women of the same age, widows suffer more health problems and receive little support or care. Government schemes in India have had poor coverage and fail to address the deep-rooted discrimination that widows face. This report calls for a systematic and integrated approach to improve the status of widows and outlines a variety of legal and structural measures.