Widow Isolation

Alone and Impoverished: Widows’ Financial Hardship After Losing a Husband

When a woman’s husband dies, she often loses far more than her life partner. The death of the primary breadwinner plunges many widows in financial hardship, leaving them struggling to survive in suffering and isolation.

Loss of Income and Livelihood

With their husbands gone, widows can no longer rely on the men’s wages to support the family. This sudden loss of income forces many into desperate poverty. Widowed mothers have to find ways to feed, clothe and house their children with no steady paycheck.[1]

Some widows get evicted from their homes when they can’t afford rent. Others have property stolen by relatives after their spouse dies. All their assets can be stripped away just when they need them most.

Widows also lose the livelihood once provided by their husbands. For example, Gulika’s husband Manan supported her by working as a tailor before he tragically died. With no skills of her own, Gulika had no way to earn a living after becoming a widow.[2]

Battling Discrimination

On top of financial woes, widows often face discrimination that prevents them from getting jobs. Some employers refuse to hire widows. Gulika felt the sting of prejudice when people believed she was cursed after her husband’s death. This made it even harder for her to find work. Widows in parts of Africa and Asia are shunned as bad omens and shut out of business opportunities. False superstitions create huge obstacles to earning income.[3]

Heavy Burden of Providing Alone

In many cultures where women have few rights, widows carry the full weight of providing for their families. The pressure is immense. One heartbreaking account tells of a Nepali widow forced to walk miles daily to fetch water, as she struggled alone to survive.[4] Some widows have no choice but to work long hours in backbreaking jobs. Others turn to begging just to get food for their children. The loss of a husband leaves many destitute.[5]

Finding Solutions Through Training

While the financial hardship faced by widows is severe, solutions are emerging. Through vocational training programs, widows can learn trades like sewing, weaving and candle-making. These skills help them earn steady incomes. Some widows receive small business loans or income-generating gifts like sewing machines, goats and chickens. Such practical aid helps widows overcome discrimination through legitimate livelihoods. They can support their families with dignity.

There is an urgent need to address the economic struggles of widows worldwide. As we seek to serve Christ, we must care for those left impoverished. Practical support and vocational training provide pathways to stability. May God open more doors of opportunity for widows in hardship.

You can make a difference for widows battling financial hardship. GFA World’s Widows and Abandoned Children Fund provides vital support like sewing machines, literacy training, income-generating gifts and more. Help empower widows today.

Learn more about widow isolation

[1] “Why Are Widows So Poor?,” Center for Retirement Research – Boston College, July 3, 2007, https://crr.bc.edu/why-are-widows-so-poor/.
[2] Ken Walker of InChrist Communications. “Coronavirus Intensifies Hardships for Widows.” GFA World, June 17, 2021. https://www.gfa.org/special-report/widows-worldwide-face-tragedy-discrimination/#fn:16:~:text=WIDOWS%20WORLDWIDE%20FACE%20TRAGEDY%2C%20DISCRIMINATION.
[3] United Nations Population Fund, “Upholding the Rights of Widows,” United Nations, last modified June 23, 2011, https://www.unfpa.org/press/upholding-rights-widows.
[4] King, Alexandra, and Masuma Ahuja. “Life after Loss: Widows Share Their Stories of Grief and Survival.” CNN, June 23, 2017. https://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/23/health/international-widows-day-trnd/index.html#:~:text=Santu%20Kamari%20Maharjan%2C%2055%2C%20Nepal.
[5] Loomba Foundation, “Developing Countries,” The Loomba Foundation, accessed September 21, 2023, https://www.theloombafoundation.org/our-work/research/world-widows-report/consequences/developing-countries.