The Charter for WIDOWS’ RIGHTS demands the elimination of all discrimination against widows, both within the family and in community and public life. Non-state actors – such as family members – may not justify the abuse of widows on the grounds of “custom”. As NafisSadik once said, famously, “ no custom or religion can ever justify the oppression of women”. We add, nor of WIDOWS.

The plight of widows of war often worsens in the aftermath of conflict, and SCR 1325 has failed to address, in any significant way (with a few unique exceptions) either their immediate or long-term needs. But the aftermath of war, when the numbers of widows and wives of the missing will have increased unprecedentedly, is the opportune moment for widows to organise themselves and ensure that, for example, in the drafting of new constitutions, in law and administrative reforms, widows’ issues are mainstreamed and their rights guaranteed.

This Draft draws on all the Human Rights Conventions and Charters, and particularly on the CEDAW and the Beijing Platform. It also accommodates the consensus arrived at in agreeing the MDGs and other Resolutions and Declarations. The Articles below describe acts and attitudes which are, in most countries, already proscribed under the general principles of international laws ratified by governments. Here they are spelt out specifically. It is hoped it will be a useful lobbying tool for widows’ groups, women’s organisations, and inform the relevant Ministries (Women, Justice, Health etc.) of the principle issues.