Petition to Advance the Rights of Widows in the United States and Worldwide

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In the United States, widows are expected to control most of the $30 trillion in wealth of the baby boomer generation by 2030 -- a potential wealth transfer that approaches the annual GDP of the United States¹; yet American WIDOWS remain mostly invisible in the eyes of policy makers and the law. Every day, widows continue to fight for their rightful estates, social security benefits, bereavement leave, and access to healthcare. 

Internationally, over 300 million widows endure systematic disinheritance of their rightful property, eviction, discrimination at the hands of laws and culture, and violent traditional cleansing rights that plunge them, and 600 million children, into vicious underworlds of poverty, human trafficking, child marriage, and violence. 

And Covid-19 is a #WidowMaker.

It’s time we begin to recognize the needs of widows, and their families, in the United States and beyond. It’s time to #MakeWidowsMatter. 

We propose these important widow/widower recognitions:

1) Create a new office entitled The Office on Widowed Persons (OWP) within the Administration for Children & Families (ACF), a division of the US Department of Health & Human Services (H&HS).  The purpose of OWP would be to protect and assist widows and widowers in the United States.

2) Increase the number of bereavement days to be equal to the current allowable days for childbirth leave provided under Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

3) Increase the current one-time survivor death benefit payment from $255 to $1,500.

4) Provide free healthcare (Medicare-like disability) for widows for a term of two to three years from the death of a spouse.

5) Introduce legislation ensuring the protection and monitoring of widows’ rights is prioritized in the future issuance of foreign aid.

6) Require the U.S. Department of State to include widows in its international human rights reporting requirements and to create programs to facilitate their economic and legal empowerment.

7) Call for the U.S. to propose a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly to protect rights and security of widows in the US and globally.

8) Call for the U.S. to propose a resolution in the United Nations Security Council to protect rights and security of widows in conflict and post conflict contexts.

9) Recognize International Widows' Day June 23 to coincide with the United Nations https://www.un.org/en/observances/widows-day 

10) Designate U.S. National Widows' Week of Awareness - Annually, the week after Father’s Day. Father’s Day was inspired by a widower, and this is one way to honor mothers who act in place of fathers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fathers_Day_(United_States)

11) Designate U.S. National Widowers Week of Awareness - Recognized annually, the week after Mother’s Day. Mother’s day was inspired by a widow, and this is one way to honor fathers who act in place of mothers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother's_Day 

Mr. President, Madam Vice-President, and members of Congress, the United States of America would be the first and only country to take such important steps towards the needs of this group of citizens. Let's lead the charge for these audacious and necessary changes.

Modern Widows Club, Global Fund for Widows, and our joint community of global supporters and partners are fully behind these important proposals to improve widowed persons’ lives worldwide. 

#ModernWidowsClub #GlobalFundForWidows #OneMillionWidows #WidowAdvocacy #WidowRights #MakeWidowsMatter #CovidIsaWidowMaker

Citation: ¹ McKinsey & Company Financial "Women as the next wave of growth in U.S. wealth management" July, 29, 2020. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/financial-services/our-insights/women-as-the-next-wave-of-growth-in-us-wealth-management