When a group of major agencies convened late last year to launch a new report on women in post-conflict regions, they made a glaring omission.
The report authors, which include the Global Women’s Institute and George Washington University, issued the report, titled “Intersections of Violence against Women and Girls with State-Building and Peace-Building,” to address gaps in our understanding of the gendered nature of conflict.
But in the 101 pages of the report, there is not one single mention of widows, despite their being the largest sub-sect of women and girls who are the invisible victims of armed conflict.
When reports like these are commissioned by governments, donors, UN agencies and NGOs, it is vital that people like widows – long afflicted by such neglect – are offered the chance to speak the truth and be heard. Their presence is all the more important since income, gender, opportunity and income and wealth inequalities remain unquantified, with scant data in the midst of strongly held cultural beliefs afflicting widows of all ages.
Widows have crucial social and economic roles – as sole parents, as key agents of change in peace-building, and as people who urgently deserve restorative justice, including accountability of the perpetrators of crimes inflicted on them.
The plight of widows is already little known, hidden under a blanket of silence, with minimal funding for interventions that specifically target them as right holders. As a widow with my own harrowing personal tale, I created the Rona Foundation in response to the serious issues afflicting the marginalized widows in my home country of Kenya.