This article is published in collaboration with Thomson Reuters Foundation

The crushing poverty and persecution faced by millions of widows worldwide, and the devastating impact on their children, is outlined in a major report on widowhood to be presented to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

151221-treatment of widows countries Loomba Foundation

Here are some facts from the Loomba Foundation’s World Widows Report:

  • There are an estimated 258,481,056 widows globally with 584,574,358 children (including adult children).
  • The number of widows has grown by 9 percent since 2010, partly because of conflicts and disease.
  • The biggest jump has been in the Middle East and North Africa where the estimated number of widows rose 24 percent between 2010 and 2015, partly due to the Syrian war and other conflicts.
  • One in seven widows globally is living in extreme poverty.
  • One in 10 women of marital age is widowed. The proportion is around one in five in Afghanistan and Ukraine.
  • One in three widows worldwide live in India or China.
  • India, with an estimated 46 million widows, has overtaken China (44.6 million) to become the country with the largest number of widows.
  • A significant number of girls are widowed in childhood – a reflection of the prevalence of child marriage in developing countries and the custom of marrying off young girls to much older men.

Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Emma Batha is a journalist specialising in humanitarian crises and women’s rights for Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Image: Sevgi Gezici (R), widow of Engin Gezici, sits next to her family members at their house in the southeastern town of Silvan in Diyarbakir province, Turkey. Three days after the vote, her husband, just back from seven months tending sheep, was shot dead in the street, caught in the crossfire as he ventured out of their house to find help for their children during a curfew, she said. REUTERS/Murad Sezer.