4-29-12 - rap on the wall. In the middle of the night, I
woke up and heard two loud raps on the wall near me. I said in my mind,
"I'm ready for a message." Not hearing anythhing immediately, I said, "If
you have a message, I'm ready to hear it." and the male voice in my head
said kiindly, "I'll come back and see you later."
I then fell into a dream in which I seemed to be managing an
apartment building I had just moved into.
I was in my closet at the beginnig, hanging up my clothes. It
was a walk-in closet and I had a lot of clothes. When I got done,
I noticed that my husband only had four pieces of clothing - all work
clothes. I wondered where the rest of his clothing was - there was
plenty of room left in the closet.
I then went downstairs into a large room where lots of women had
gathered - mostly white-haired ladies, who I seemed to know but not by
name necessarily. There were tables full of used clothing that had
been donated, and my job apparently was to sort them out and decide who
should get them.
Before I sat down, a white-haired woman came to me and asked me what
she should do, and it came to me to give her a really big job. She
was a widow and didn't know what to do with herelf, so I told her,
"One minute you are a wife and mother, and in one second flat, you
become a widow and nobody knows what to do then - - why don't you
write up a Widow's Symposium?"
She liked that idea a lot and now had something to do to occupy her
I ended up sitting on a sofa with several ladies and other women
brought clothes over and I'd tell them who should ge it.
My husband showed up - it was John McBain from One Life to Live
TV show - now only on the SOAP channel. In my mind, I
was thinking, He only works when I tell him to do something - he never
thinks of things to do on his own.
I and John and another older woman were by now buried in piles of
clothing I was sorting.
One of the pieces that was handed to me was a blouse, made of new
silky fabrics, and I handed it to the woman and suggested that it might
be appropriate to make it into quilting squares or something because it
was made of so many little pieces of fabric sewed together.
She took one look at it and said 'No!" and I know why -
'because it wasn't cotton". It was too silky. So I said to
her, "Then you can decide what to do wtih it." I just
couldn't imagine anything else to use it for - I couldn't iamgine
wearing it myself.
June 23: International Widows Day
Posted on June 23, 2011
It is official. 2011 marks the first year the United Nations
recognizes International Widows Day. It is a call to action to focus
the world on the unique plight of the world’s 245 million widows who
have lost their husbands. Religion, law and tradition in many
countries leaves a woman ostracized when her husband dies. In many
cases, she is stripped of everything because she, like his home or
other possessions, belonged to him. Imagine?
The United Nations Women planned a one-day symposium to mark the
first June 23rd. the night before, the UK’s former “First Lady” and
a human rights attorney and activist Cherie Booth Blair told a New
York crowd, she hopes International Widows Day will be marked like
International Women’s Day in March, with worldwide attention.
A report release by the
Trust, the foundation which began in India and has spread its
work to other parts of the middle East and Africa, calculated there
are more than 100 million widows in poverty. If you add by extension
the children of the 245 milllion, their widowhood affects one-sixth
of the world population. According to Loomba’s statistics, widowed
women experience targeted murder, rape, prostitution, forced
marriage, property theft, eviction, social isolation, and physical
and psychological abuse.
As part of the symposium, the United Nations is hosting an art
show with work by Yoko Ono and others focusing on widows and their
For more on the report and the reasons for Widows Day SEE THE
It is official. 2011 marks the first year the United Nations
recognizes International Widows Day. It is a call to action to focus the
world on the unique plight of the world’s 245 million widows who have
lost their husbands. Religion, law and tradition in many countries
leaves a woman ostracized when her husband dies. In many cases, she is
stripped of everything because she, like his home or other possessions,
belonged to him. Imagine?
The United Nations Women planned a one-day symposium to mark the
first June 23rd. the night before, the UK’s former “First Lady” and a
human rights attorney and activist Cherie Booth Blair told a New York
crowd, she hopes International Widows Day will be marked like
International Women’s Day in March, with worldwide attention.
A report release by the
Trust, the foundation which began in India and has spread its work
to other parts of the middle East and Africa, calculated there are more
than 100 million widows in poverty. If you add by extension the children
of the 245 milllion, their widowhood affects one-sixth of the world
population. According to Loomba’s statistics, widowed women experience
targeted murder, rape, prostitution, forced marriage, property theft,
eviction, social isolation, and physical and psychological abuse.
As part of the symposium, the United Nations is hosting an art show
with work by Yoko Ono and others focusing on widows and their unique
For more on the report and the reasons for Widows Day click
Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
The charity was set up in September 2008 in response to Cherie’s
experiences meeting women around the world and the realisation that,
with the right support, women can overcome the challenges they face and
play an important part in the economies and societies in which they work
Supporting women in Africa, South
Asia & the Middle East
We invest in women entrepreneurs so they can build and expand their
businesses - and in doing so benefit not only themselves but also their
families and communities. The Foundation focuses its efforts on Africa,
South Asia and the Middle East in countries where women have made
strides in education and have the potential to succeed in business but
lack the necessary support.
Why focus on entrepreneurs?
Women who are financially independent have greater control over their
own and their children’s lives. Economic security gives women a more
influential voice in tackling injustice and discrimination in their
communities and wider society.
Yet women entrepreneurs around the world still lack the business
skills, technology, networks and access to finance they need to be
successful in the long term. The Foundation provides support in these
four key areas so that women can grow their businesses and create
Working in partnership with local organisations, the Foundation
develops programmes that build confidence, capability and capital in
women. Given that women tend to invest 90% of their income back into
their families, investing in women isn’t just good ethics, it’s sound
"We must recognize the important contribution of widows, and we must
ensure that they enjoy the rights and social protections they
deserve. Death is inevitable, but we can reduce the suffering that
widows endure by raising their status and helping them in their hour
of need. This will contribute to promoting the full and equal
participation of all women in society. And that will bring us closer
to ending poverty and promoting peace around the world."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
for International Widows’ Day
23 June 2011
The first International Widows’ Day will be observed on 23 June,
providing an opportunity to give special recognition to the plight
of widows and their children in order to restore their human rights
and alleviate poverty through empowerment.
In December 2010, the General Assembly declared 23 June as
International Widows’ Day (A/RES/65/189).
The General Assembly decided, with effect from 2011, to observe
International Widows’ Day on 23 June each year, and called upon
Member States, the United Nations system and other international and
regional organizations, within their respective mandates, to give
special attention to the situation of widows and their children.
International Widows Day is the UN’s annual global day of action to
address the poverty and injustice faced by millions of widows and their
dependents in many countries. It takes place on 23 June. International
Widows Day was initiated by the Loomba Foundation in 2005 and officially
recognised by the United Nations General Assembly, on a motion by the
Government of Gabon, on 22 December 2010.
The significance of 23 June is that this is the day, in 1954, that
the woman who inspired the founding of the Loomba Foundation, Shrimati
Pushpa Wati Loomba, became a widow.
When the Loomba Foundation was founded in 1997, its focus initially
was on relieving the desperate plight of poor widows and their children
in India – and this
and this remains a very important objective. Founder Raj Loomba soon
came to realise however that this problem is by no means confined to
India alone. “I was shocked to discover that widowhood was a huge
problem not only in India, but across Africa,” he explained to
WidowsVoice.org. “They were losing husbands through HIV, through
genocide, through conflict, and they were becoming destitute. They were
not looked after by governments or NGOs and they were shunned by
society. It’s such a big problem, and yet nothing has been done. Nobody
in the world, including the United Nations, had ever addressed the
problem of widows.”
In Africa, too, the problem is more deep-rooted than current
devastations like genocide and HIV. Attitudes are founded in traditions
and so-called ‘customary laws’.
In 2005, Loomba Foundation president Cherie Blair launched
International Widows Day at the House of Lords in London and over the
next five years, the Foundation campaigned for international recognition
of this day as a focus for sustained, effective, global action to bring
about a radical and lasting transformation in the plight of widows. In
2006 the Loomba Foundation held an international conference on the topic
at the Foreign Office in London, addressed by widows from ten countries
as well as Cherie Blair, Hillary Clinton, Indian cabinet minister Renuka
Chowdhury, Yoko Ono and Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon. The
Foundation established offices in America and Canada and organised
meetings at the United Nations, gaining the attention and support of
leaders like Rwandan president Dr Paul Kagame and the former UN
secretary-general Kofi Annan.
The big problem with the cause was its invisibility. Governments,
NGOs, international organisations – all neglected the issue because so
very little was known about it. The Loomba Foundation initiated and
supported an investigative programme with writers, researchers and
institutions including Chatham House and in 2010, Vijay Dutt’s Invisible
Forgotten Sufferers was published with research by Risto Harma: the
first comprehensive research study of the plight of widows around the
Backed with that hard information, support for UN recognition grew.
President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon and his wife Madame Sylvia Bongo
Ondimba, threw their weight behind the campaign and on 22 December 2011,
the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution from Gabon
officially recognising 23 June as International Widows Day.
International Widows Day is a
United Nations ratified day of action to address the “poverty
and injustice faced by millions of widows and their dependents in
The day takes place annually on 23 June.
International Widows Day was established by
The Loomba Foundation to raise awareness of the issue of
widowhood. The significance of 23 June is that it was on that day in
1954 that Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba - mother of the Foundation’s
Lord Loomba – herself became a widow.
One of the Foundation’s key goals is to highlight what it describes
as an invisible calamity. A recently published book – Invisible,
Forgotten Sufferers: The Plight of Widows Around the World – reveals
that there are an estimated 245 million widows worldwide, 115
million of whom live in poverty and suffer from social
stigmatization and economic deprivation purely because they have
lost their husbands.
As part of the Loomba Foundation’s awareness campaign, this study
was presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on 22 June 2010.
The first International Widows Day took place in 2005 and was
launched by Lord Loomba and the Foundation’s President,
Since that time, the scale of the event has grown, with events
across the world timed to commemorate the day of awareness. By 2010
- International Widows Day sixth anniversary - events were held in
Sri Lanka, the
On the 21st December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly
formally adopted 23 June as International Widows Day, endorsing by
unanimous acclaim a proposal introduced by President
Ali Bongo Ondimba of
As well as formally recognizing 23 June as a day of observance, the
accompanying resolution called upon “Member States, the United
Nations system and other international and regional organizations to
give special attention to the situation of widows and their
The world must support its widows
Let's use International Widows Day to start a dialogue on
solving the problems faced by the world's 245 million widows
115 million of the world's widows still live in extreme
poverty. Photograph: Ahmad Masood/Reuters
245 million widows in the world, yet their problems are
often ignored. Today, on the first
International Widows Day, I hope to break the silence of
their suffering in order to support them to play an active
role in building their families and their communities.
Widows all over the world are a particularly vulnerable
group subject to much prejudice. Allow me to challenge a few
stereotypes. When I talk about the world's 245 million
widows, I am not talking about elderly women. All across the
world, widows are often women in the prime of life, young
women who are left as sole carers for their children, alone
responsible for their shelter, food, schooling and
wellbeing. As the HIV/Aids epidemic and armed conflicts
continue to wreak havoc across the world, widows are getting
younger and facing tougher challenges. Many of these women
face harsh discrimination and social exclusion on account of
their marital status, which compounds the discrimination
they already face on account of their gender. Positive steps
have been taken in some parts of the world to address this
situation, but there is still a long way to go.
115 million widows still live in extreme poverty. In
many cases, their children have to leave school to go to
work to plug the gap in the household income left by their
father's death; their daughters, in particular, are
therefore often at a high risk of sexual exploitation.
Worldwide, more than
500 million children of widows live in hostile
environments, and more than 1.5 million of these children
die before the age of five. Widows' poverty, depriving their
children of aspiration, education and future employment,
affects the whole of society. It is a humanitarian crisis.
Today, on International Widows Day, we must ask ourselves
what is to be done to tackle this issue.. Supporting widows
catalyses a developmental multiplier effect: as women gain
knowledge, children learn. As women become employed,
economies grow. As women are given equality, nations become
stronger, and justice and equity across the board become
attainable. It impacts directly on poverty, their children's
education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health
on the spread of HIV/Aids – six of the eight
millennium development goals.
Research by the
Africa Partnership Forum has shown that had more women
been educated and employed, Africa's economies would have
doubled in size over the last 30 years. The simple truth is
that for every year of schooling a mother has received the
likelihood that her child dies as an infant declines by 10%.
To support women, then, is to support their children; and to
support vulnerable women is to support even more vulnerable
children. These statistics reveal the true value of enabling
families to support one another. I believe that families are
the glue that holds societies together; they create strong
foundations on which to build, and they are the structures
that help economic growth filter throughout the whole of
society. Supporting widows strengthens society's human
tissue, keeping families strong even when they are broken by
the death of a loved one.
As we work to achieve the millennium development goals,
we need to initiate a new global dialogue on widows and
their children. Starting this dialogue is the purpose of the
conference on the first International Widows Day organised
UN Women and the
republic of Gabon. We seek to build new and innovative
partnerships and to share best practice in this field, to
fully acknowledge the lynchpin role our world's widows play
in addressing many of our shared social challenges. They
have a unique contribution to make in unleashing the
potential of our youth, empowering them to build a brighter
future for us all.
THERE ARE OVER 251 MILLION WIDOWS IN THE WORLD -
MOST LIVING IN EXTREME POVERTY
the spread of HIV/Aids – six of the eight
millennium development goals.
Yoko Ono was at
the United Nations (UN) commemorating the first-ever International
Widow’s Day today (23 June) with a panel discussion featuring UN
Secretary-General’s wife Ban Soon-taek, Executive Director of UN Women
Michele Bachelet, First Day of Gabon Sylvia Bongo Ondimba and President
of the Loomba Foundation Cherie Blair.
Addressing an audience of delegates and representatives from the civil
society, Bachelet, who organized the event, said that there was an
increasing number of widows in the world especially in “the context of
armed conflicts around the world as well as the HIV and AIDS epidemic.”
The UN reports that there are approximately 245 million widows in the
world, more than 115 million live in extreme poverty, and that in
countries affected by conflict, women are frequently widowed young,
thrusting upon them the heavy burden of caring for children, often in
environments of unrest, displacement and lack of support.
Taking about the plight of widows around the world, the First Lady of
Gabon Sylvia Bongo Ondimba said “expelled from their homes, stripped of
their goods, they must summon all their courage and energy to not only
over come the loss of their partners but also to continue to satisfy the
needs of their children.”
To give special recognition to the situation of widows of all ages and
across regions and cultures, the General Assembly declared 23 June 2011
as the first-ever International Widows’ Day in December 2010.
President of Loomba Foundation and former First Lady of the United
Kingdom, Cherie Blair said the commemoration “is, in one sense, a
celebration” because “the UN is acknowledging the plight of widows
across the world.”
In a written message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged societies
to ease the hardship that widows endure when their husbands die by
respecting their rights to such social entitlements as access to
inheritance, land tenure, employment and other means of livelihood.
He added that all widows should be protected by the rights enshrined in
the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women and other international human rights treaties.
His wife, Ban Soon-taek, addressed the panel and asked all stakeholders
to “stay engaged in the year ahead to help the world’s widows and their
She added “let us keep pushing forward and meet next year to review
progress and continue our efforts to give women who suffered their
husbands’ deaths a great life of their own, the life they deserve.”
According to the UN, empowering widows through access to adequate
healthcare, education, decent work, full participation in
decision-making and public life, and lives free of violence and abuse,
would give them a chance to build a secure life after bereavement.
Yesterday evening Yoko Ono, the renowned artist and the widow of John
Lennon, opened an art exhibit featuring the work of London-based artist
Reeta Sarkar. The exhibit was a tribute to women and mothers around the
While addressing patrons, she said “as a widow I’ve known the pain of
losing my soul-mate” adding that “until I was well into being a widow
myself I had no idea what being a widow meant in some parts of the
The exhibit was sponsored by both Ono and the Loomba Foundation, a
leading non-governmental organization dedicated to widow’s awareness and
LONDON: What do the benighted widows of Vrindavan have in
common with Yoko Ono, complete with folksy expensive panama hat and huge
bumble-bee sunglasses? Answer: Raj Loomba, bullish British Indian
businessman and his high-profile, celebrity-supported campaign to force
the United Nations to declare June 23 International Widows Day.
Ono, 73, is
arguably the world's most famous widow but that is not much of a
disadvantage when her husband was John Lennon. In Vrindavan, city of
widows, meanwhile, an estimated 16,000 husbandless women sing bhajans
for a pittance and live on the margins of society.
widow was Jacqueline Kennedy
Not only did she
have to endure the horror of sitting beside the horror that happened to
her husband, after the funeral she was forced to live under the same
roof of people whoh caused her husband's death.
No one lives
forever, not even the most wealthy. Rich men are often powerful and
hugely successful in their fields. Death puts an end to that, leaving
the ones left behind to strike off on their own. But sometimes the
widows of wealthy men are or become as famous and successful as their
Priscilla Presley was only 14 years old when she met
rock 'n' roll singer Elvis Presley while he was
stationed in Germany with the Army. Eight years later,
she married the King and they had one daughter together,
Lisa Marie. Unfortunately, the marriage did not work out
and the Presleys divorced in 1973. Neither had remarried
when Elvis died in 1977. Priscilla became co-executor of
the massive Presley estate. She proved to be a canny
business woman, turning Elvis's Graceland home into a
money-making shrine rather than a financial drain, and
parlaying this success into other business endeavors,
such as merchandising, fragrance and jewelry lines,
video projects and music licensing.
Anna Nicole Smith was already a successful model and
had appeared in a few films when she met and married J.
Howard Marshall, a staggeringly rich oil tycoon from
Texas. Marshall was almost 90 years old when the two
married and did not live much longer, dying the next
year. He left Smith nothing in his will, but Smith filed
for half of the $1.6 billion estate anyway. Marshall's
son, E. Pierce Marshall, fought it. The case dragged on;
in the meantime, Anna Nicole Smith continued to act in
movies, starred in a reality TV show and endorsed a line
of diet products. After a series of personal tragedies,
Smith herself died in 2007.
Jackie Kennedy Onassis holds the unenviable
distinction of being the famous widow of not one but two
wealthy and powerful men. Jackie was First Lady of the
United States, married to President John F. Kennedy,
when he was assassinated in November of 1963. She then
married airline owner and shipping magnate Aristotle
Onassis in 1968. Aristotle died in 1975. Jackie was rich
and popular with the American public but wanted to work
in a field in which she had always been interested,
literature. She spent her last years working as an
editor for major book publishers and lobbying for
preservation and improvement of the arts in New York
Yoko One first met John Lennon, member of The
Beatles, in 1966, at one of her own art exhibitions. The
two did not begin an affair until almost two years
later, and after Lennon divorced his first wife, married
in 1969. The pair worked together on many art and music
projects until Lennon effectively retired from music for
five years in 1980. They recorded a hit album released
in 1980, but Lennon was murdered at the end of that
year. Ono manages Lennon's estate, raised their son, and
has continued her art and music projects, releasing
albums and writing two off-Broadway musicals.
Famous Widows of Wealthy Men | eHow.com
New York Widows
Notes from an unfinished article:
In 1980, Nicholas Pileggi at New York Magazine assigned
me to arrange for a group photo of New York’s most famous widows.
After months of fruitless overtures, I was utterly defeated. Maybe
someone like Truman Capote or George Hamilton could have pulled it
off. Rich doyennes are suspicious of people’s motives. They become
the prey of “tombstone ghouls”—Earl Scheib-types who try to persuade
them to erect bigger graveside monuments over the phone. Perhaps
they feared I was scheming for their jewels.
The first question asked by each widow upon contact was “Who else do
you have?” Well, I made overtures to Mrs. (Elinor) Lou Gehrig, Mrs.
(Claire) Babe Ruth, Mrs. (Lucy) Louis Armstrong, Mrs. (Rachel)
Jackie Robinson, Mrs. (Vera) Igor Stravinsky, Mrs. (Elaine) John
Steinbeck, Mrs. (Dorothy) Richard Rogers. Those are the types Nick
Pileggi wanted. Ones I preferred, like Lillian Lugosi or Honey
Bruce, were apparently not New York mag material, and
A-list widows, like Mrs. Lou Gehrig, might not have consented to
posing with them. I spent months in agonized pursuit of Mrs. Lou
Gehrig. She made me jump through hoops with her lawyer, demanded
final approval, then stood me up twice.
I consulted four books on the subject. Widowhood is inherently sad,
and instantly identifies a woman who has outlived her partner. No
matter how successfully she controls her life, she is labeled,
legally and figuratively, a widow unless she remarries. And widows
of famous men are considered a minority within a neglected minority.
They were more likely to have spent less time in the company of
their busy alpha male husbands.
Widowhood could also be a state of mind, even before it hit. There
were perennial widows, like Mrs. Babe Ruth, who seemed
to be one for most of her life. There were honorary
widows, like Mrs. Jackie Robinson, and of course heroic
ones, like Jackie Kennedy, who was also twice-widowed.
Some, like Mrs. Sen. Jake Javits, seemed to have widowly qualities
even before or without becoming one. Mrs. (Madeline) Jack Gilford
and Mrs. (Kate) Zero Mostel wrote a nostalgic memoir—170 Years
of Show Business—in widowly fashion, before either became
one. Both of their families were victims of the insidious 1950’s
From my notes on one of the few interviews that took place:
Kate Mostel, Zero’s wife, welcomed me into their exquisite home at
146 Central Park West. Artworks adorned the apartment, with striking
self-portraits of Zero as Tevye on the walls. Zero was only 62 when
he died in 1977, robbed of his prime years by the 1950’s blacklist.
He’d already starred on Broadway, in opera, Yiddish theater, radio
and movies. He was the reigning star at the integrated Café Society
nightclub in Greenwich Village when he married Kate, a Rockette and
Chez Paree chorus girl, in 1944.
Kate was responsible for talking a reluctant Zero into his greatest
roles, including Fiddler on the Roof’s Tevye—the
prototype from which all subsequent actors modeled themselves. One
of her Yorkshire poodles does an authentic Eddie Cantor imitation,
waving both paws and rolling his eyes.
Zero was blacklisted three times--on radio, television and in
Hollywood. Even 25 years later, after Zero’s stellar career
throughout the 1960s, the subject is raw. She still tenses up
whenever she sees a photo of Senator Joe McCarthy. “Zero signed some
petitions that communists also signed, so they lumped them all
together.” His nightclub act included an irreverent caricature of a
senator, which surely rubbed McCarthy the wrong way. Kate was
disappointed by The Front, one of Zero’s last movie
appearances in 1976, in which he portrayed a Hollywood blacklist
victim. The role was apparently watered down from Zero’s own
There was a collective sigh of relief among actors in their circle
when McCarthy died in 1957. “I was afraid to open the door every
time the bell rang, ’cause it could have been the FBI. I told the
kids not to open the door until I was there.”
The blacklist refugees became such a family that they remain tight
to this day. She refers to Ring Lardner’s, and her own children as
“Second generation blacklist.” Widowed less than three years, she
says she doesn’t hear from Zero’s poker-playing men friends—just
those who were “our friends.” Has her social life
“I don’t think so. I still go to the same parties, to the theater,
but by myself. Maybe it’s a little quieter.”
Kate Mostel, herself, was only 67 when she passed away in
© 1980, 2009 Josh Alan Friedman
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