UN International Widows Day Conference 2021

Brought to you by The Loomba Foundation

Join the Loomba Foundation (Caring for Widows Around the World) and CW as we observe the UN's International Widows Day on the 23 June 2021.

About the event

Loomba Foundation

The tenth anniversary of the UN’s International Widows Day on 23 June this year comes at a time when COVID-19 is causing untold additional suffering for those families who have lost their main breadwinner and it is more important than ever that we maintain our commitment to eradicating the unjust discrimination that affects millions of widows and their dependents worldwide.

International Widows Day was first launched by The Loomba Foundation (Caring for Widows Around the World) at the House of Lords in 2005 and after a five-year campaign for recognition was unanimously adopted by the UN at the 65th General Assembly in December 2010. The first International Widows Day under UN auspices took place on 23 June 2011 and was marked by a conference at UN Headquarters in New York chaired by Mme Yoo Soon-taek, the wife of then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

On 23 June The Loomba Foundation (Caring for Widows Around the World) will host this year’s International Widows Day Conference as a virtual event to mark this important anniversary and we invite you to join us – please register your place by clicking the ‘Reserve a place’ above.

The conference will highlight how International Widows Day has become a significant focus for changing prejudice worldwide, with events taking place annually in many countries. To bring this story to life, we will hear from speakers around the world who will talk about:

  • What does International Widows Day mean to them?
  • How does it help their organisation?
  • What activities do they undertake?
  • What have been the benefits for widows and their dependents?

CW is managing this event as part of our Innovation Project with The Loomba Foundation. This project convenes technology, education and not-for-profit groups from across the world to give advice, support and technical expertise to empower widows in making the most of their abilities and ideas. CW has offered its expertise in technology, digital skills training and learning platforms to help develop a generation of digial interns who, in turn, can support their families.

Organised by The Loomba Foundation

The Loomba Foundation is an NGO dedicated to improving the lives of widows, in developing countries and in India in particular, through advocacy.

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Managed by CW (Cambridge Wireless)

The leading community for companies in wireless, internet, semiconductor and software technologies.

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Agenda

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The information supplied below may be subject to change before the event.

14:00

Introduction of Lord Loomba CBE, from Abhi Naha

CCO, CW (Cambridge Wireless)

14:05

Welcome from Lord Loomba CBE

Founder and Chairman Trustee, The Loomba Foundation

14:10

Opening conference

14:15

Cherie Blair CBE QC, President, The Loomba Foundation

14:25

Moderator Harjiv Singh, Trustee, The Loomba Foundation (USA/India)

14:25

International Widows Day – Impact around the world

• UK - Margaret Owen OBE, President and Founder, Widows for Peace through Democracy
• Kenya – Roseline Orwa, Founder/Director, Rona Foundation
• Nigeria – Dr Eleanor Nwadinobi, President, Widows Development Organisation
• US – Carolyn Moor, President, Founder & Development Director, Modern Widows Club
• Nepal – Lily Thapa, Founder, Women for Human Rights
• Tanzania – Rose Sarwatt, Executive Director, Tanzania Widows Association (TAWIA)
• India – Shoury Reddy, Executive Director, Bala Vikasa
• Uganda – Charles Ocici, Executive Director, Enterprise Uganda

15:05

Q&A session with Lord Loomba CBE, Cherie Blair CBE QC and Dr Peter Rajsingh, Trustee, The Loomba Foundation (USA)

15:20

International Widows Day Video by famous Bollywood singer Bappi Lahiri

15:25

Vote of thanks from Shamin Lalji, Trustee, The Loomba Foundation (UK)

Speakers

Cherie Blair - President, The Loomba Foundation

Cherie Blair, Founder Cherie Blair Foundation for Women Leading Queen’s Counsel, wife of the former British Prime Minister and committed campaigner for women’s rights, Cherie Blair CBE QC set up the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women in 2008 to help women build small and growing businesses in low and middle income countries so that they can contribute to their economies and have a stronger voice in their societies.

 

Cherie is actively involved in the Foundation, generously and tirelessly giving her time and resources to ensure its success. Travelling internationally to visiting projects, donors and attend conferences, our founder is an ambassador for women entrepreneurs everywhere, encouraging other non-profits, corporations and governments to do more to support women business owners. Cherie was awarded a CBE in the 2013 New Year’s Honours List for services to women’s issues and to charities in both the UK and overseas.

Shamin Lalji

Shamin Lalji has spent more than 45 years dedicating her time to Canadian and International charities.  In particular, she has a passion for improving the lives of women and children.  From an early age, Shamin was involved in assisting marginalised women in Vancouver.  She has a strong desire to assist women and their families to move out of poverty through education, skill development and increased financial independence. Shamin has had an interesting and varied career, she has worked for the British Columbia Development Corporation and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, in addition she has been a Commissioner, West Vancouver, B.C. assisting the West Vancouver Mayor and Council. Shamin has also been involved in many organisation at board level including the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation Board, India Music Society, Vancouver Playhouse, The CHILD Foundation (Vancouver), Kinsmen’s Rehabilitation Foundation, Ismaili Women’s Organisation and the North Shore Battered Women’s Organization to name but a few. In 1999 Shamin became a Trustee of The Loomba Foundation, The Foundations helps to educate children of poor widows in India and in many countries globally.  The Foundation also empowers widows by providing them with sewing machines and garment sewing training.  The Foundation was recognised as a United Nations accredited global charity in 2011 with June 23rd being declared as International Widows’ Day.

Raj Loomba CBE - Founder and Chairman Trustee, The Loomba Foundation

Lord Raj Loomba CBE, Philanthropist, Founder and Chairman of The Loomba Group of Companies and member of the House of Lords, began his journey in a small Punjabi village in India. When his father passed away, leaving his mother a widow, life changed dramatically for Raj and his six siblings as they experienced first-hand the prejudice and suffering faced by his mother, ultimately providing the impetus for The Loomba Foundation. Using her late husband’s funds Pushpa was able to educate all her children and sent Raj to America to study at the University of Iowa. He arrived in London in 1962 with nothing but a strong work ethic. Under the guidance of his uncle in Wigan, he started trading on a market stall in Widnes, near Liverpool. In 1964, he married Veena, with whom he had two daughters, Reeta and Roma, and one son, Rakesh. Over the next 25 years Raj grew his business into a successful London based clothing company, supported by his wife. In 1997, Raj’s journey took a new turn with the founding of The Loomba Foundation in his mother’s memory. The Foundation is dedicated to the cause of alleviating the suffering and discrimination of widows in the developing world. In 2008, in recognition of his contribution to society, Loomba was appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE). In 2011 Loomba was elevated to the House of Lords, as a Life Peer. Over the past two decades Raj has devoted his life to advocate and improve the lives of widows and their children around the world.

Carolyn Moor

Carolyn Moor is the President, Founder and Development Director of Modern Widows Club. Widowed on Valentine’s Day 2000 and with two young daughters to raise solo. Carolyn struggled to find the mentors she needed to model the healing and growth she desperately sought in the stage of widowhood. This ultimately led to the founding of Modern Widows Club in Carolyn’s very own living room in 2011.

Carolyn is a TEDxOakland speaker and bereavement consultant. She has participated in the UN Women Commission on the Status of Women, the Global Leadership Network, and she has been featured as a model of resilience in the Wall Street Journal, the Oprah Winfrey Show and numerous other women’s health media broadcasts. Her work on behalf of widows is recognized nationally and internationally. She is honoured to represent widows around the world.

Carolyn is the host of the Healthy Widow Healthy Woman Podcast and curriculum developer at the Widow Empowerment School of Thought. Her latest interview with the WOW Factor Leadership Podcast shares more of her story.

Abhi Naha - CCO, CW (Cambridge Wireless)

Abhi is the CEO, Founder of the Product as a Service Consortium and CCO of CW Cambridge Wireless. Abhi was the CEO and Founder of Zone V, a Cambridge start-up backed by Qualcomm and ARM focused on empowering people with aging eyes and visual impairment through inclusively designed smartphone software. He held senior roles at Powermat, San Jose-based Synaptics and advisory roles for Goldman Sachs and Silver Lake in the area of mobile user interface technologies. Abhi is a senior advisor to an autonomous vehicle mobility scale up, Conigital, Industry Partner for Arjun Infrastructure Partners with 3 Billion Euros of assets under management and an Ambassador for the United Nations Global Sustainability Index Institute. Abhi studied Electronics and Electrical Engineering, has an MBA in International Marketing and was approached by Cambridge University Press to co-author a book with Peter Whale of Qualcomm on Mobile Handset Design.

Eleanor Nwadinobi

Dr Nwadinobi is a medical doctor and international health, women peace and security, gender and human rights expert. She holds a European Union masters in Human rights and Democratisation (EMA) from Venice, Italy.

As President of the Widows Development Organisation, Dr Nwadinobi joined in advocating for the law protecting widows in Enugu State, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition(VAPP) Act at Federal level and most recently Abia State VAPP act.

She is currently the International President of the Medical Women's International Association (MWIA).

She is  founding Co-Chair of the Every Woman Treaty, coalition advocation for a global Treaty to end violence against women and girls (VAWG).

Dr Nwadinobi sits on the boards of several National and International Organisations. She has authored several publications and received numerous awards of merit. Her personal profile is featured in Friedrich Ebert Stiftung publication, “The hands that build Nigeria: Nigerian women role models”.

Charles Ocici

Charles has over 20 years of micro, small and medium enterprise development; in Uganda and the rest of Africa. He is a widely respected and notable speaker at international conferences organized by the UN, the World Bank, the British Council and an acknowledged authority on Private Sector issues in Africa and has featured on CNN, BBC and leading local media houses. Charles is the Founding Executive Director of Enterprise Uganda, the country’s premier enterprise and business management institution. In 2009 he was an award winner under the annual ‘British Most Influential Alumni’. He was the First President of Enterprise Africa, a 14-member umbrella body of Enterprise Development Institutions in Africa. In 2009 Charles was declared one of the 6 Ugandan National Heroes by readers of the New Vision, one of Uganda’s leading media houses. Charles holds board directorships in banking, education, and NGO sectors; he also holds an MBA as well as MSC in Investment Analysis from the UK.

Rosaline Orwa

Roseline Orwa is an award-winning advocate for widows, and a campaigner for cultural, social and policy change around the inequalities and stigma that widows face. She was widowed aged 32, when her husband was killed in post-election violence. Like many Kenyan women, she had to face “sexual cleansing” in order to be able to return to day-to-day life. In 2008, she founded the Rona Foundation, an acclaimed non-profit organisation that supports and champions the rights of widows across Kenya. It offers social, economic and leadership training to widows and schoolgirls, and also works with male champions to change harmful traditional practices around widowhood. Roseline is a Commissioned Expert with Kenya’s Ministry of Labour and Social Services, and has served as a widows’ rights consultant for numerous local, national and global civil organisations. She is an Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity at the London School of Economics, a 2021 Aspen New Voices Fellow, and a global leader with Modern Widows Club (USA). In 2021, she addressed the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women CSW65 conference, in which she called for global action on the rights of widows during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, and spoke to a Cornell Law School audience on the role of activism in transformative lawmaking. She was invited to address the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) at the 38th Human Rights Council session in 2018, and that same year she spoke via video link on “The Forgotten Plight of Women of All Ages – How Europe can Impact” to a session of the European Parliament in Brussels. A life skills coach and a mentor whose work is replicated across Kenya, Roseline holds a non-graduate degree in public relations and communication from Daystar University, a diploma in printing and graphic design from the Technical University of Kenya, and a diploma in project management and innovation. Roseline is a childless mother to 26 orphaned children. In her work with the Rona Foundation, she leads a centre in rural Kenya that supports widows and orphans.

Margaret Owen OBE

Margaret Owen is a human rights barrister and activist with a particular focus on women's rights and especially the rights of widows - of all ages.  - and of "half-widows" (wives of the missing or forcibly disappeared). especially in the context of their situation in fragile and conflict afflicted countries, whose numbers are now increasing exponentially not just due to armed conflicts but to the spread of COVID19 that kills more men than women. She defines the cross-cutting issues of widowhood as the most neglected of all gender and human rights issue, and has lobbied for attention to it ever since the death of her own husband over 30 years ago, at the UN, at the CEDAW (Committee on the UN Convention on the ELIMINATION of all FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN), the Security Council, the Human Rights Council and at the European Parliament. She is the founder and PRESIDENT of WIDOWS FOR PEACE THROUGH DEMOCRACY, the umbrella for many widows' associations across the world, enabling them to have their voices heard, so that their needs can be addressed and their crucial social and economic roles in their families and communities recognised and supported. 

Peter Rajsingh - Trustee, The Loomba Foundation

Peter Rajsingh has been involved with the Loomba Foundation since its first event at the United Nations in New York on October 21, 2005, at the UNA-NY UN Day Gala celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the UN with then Secretary-General Kofi Annan in attendance. At the time Peter was President of UNA-NY and he continues to serve on the UNA-NY Board, as well as being a Trustee of the Loomba Foundation.

He works in alternative asset management and also teaches at various universities including New York University where he has lectured since 1991. He is on the boards of a number of charities and private companies and splits his time between the United States and Europe.

Shoury Reddy

Singareddy Shoury Reddy is the Executive Director of Bala Vikasa Social Service Society, an internationally reputed non-profit community development organization, which has impacted the lives of over 6 million rural poor in 6500 villages spread across 6 states of India through various innovative community empowerment initiatives. Shoury Reddy holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work and also a Diploma in Community Development from St. F.X. University, Canada. He has worked with Bala Vikasa since its inception in 1991 and has played a key role in making Bala Vikasa a globally influencing organization. Over the past 32 years of working passionately with Bala Vikasa, he has innovated some of the best community development project models in the country which have gone on to inspire not just NGOs and social workers but also governments at both state and national level. He has been a strong advocate for widows’ rights and has been leading a social movement against widow discrimination in the two Telugu states involving students, religious leaders, poets, journalists, opinion leaders, lawmakers, and the civil society at large through seminars, conventions, and awareness campaigns. Under his leadership, Bala Vikasa has worked steadfastly with over 15,000 widows helping them with intellectual, social, legal and financial aid. He is the architect of two Mega Conventions with 10,000+ and 15000+ widows where four key demands were made to the Governments on behalf of the widows, the latter event made its way into the Limca Book of records for the same.

Rose Sarwatt

Founder/Executive Director, Tanzania Widows Association. TAWIA. Widows Rights Activist.

Harjiv Singh

Harjiv is an entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience in building and scaling companies globally, Harjiv is the founder and CEO of Gutenberg a global digital marketing agency. He has also founded BrainGain Global, a technology-enabled international higher education marketplace for content, tools and programs. He has a keen interest in international higher education, experiential learning technology, international relations, economics, history, and the impact of globalization. He is an Executive Fellow at Cambridge University, Independent Director, Indag Rubber Ltd., Trustee of The Loomba Foundation and on the Advisory Council of American India Foundation (AIF). Harjiv is an alumunus of Stanford Graduate Business School’s SEED program. He received his Master’s in International Affairs in Economic Policy from Columbia University and an MBA and a bachelor’s degree in finance from New York Institute of Technology.

Lily Thapa

Lily Thapa pioneered to establish an organization which solely focuses on the issue of widows. She is the founding president of Women for Human Rights (WHR) that has been working for the social, political, economic and legal rights of widows in Nepal and in South Asia for the past 25 years. Through WHR, her advocacy has changed government policy, and has succeeded to mainstream the issue of widows into the government agenda and to change many discriminatory legal policies from country code of Nepal. She continues to raise pertinent issues concerning the rights of women at the national and international level. She was also the General Secretary for the South Asian Network for Widow’s Empowerment in Development, (SANWED) where she actively lobbied various issues pertaining to women and widows across South Asia. Since 2016 she has been a Think Tank member in the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizen. Lily also serves as President in a women’s alliance for peace, power and participation - Sankalpa since 2018. Her efforts have been recognized by numerous national and international awards, including the 2019 Jan Sewa Padak (2nd) and 2013 Jan Sewa Padak (3rd) from the President of Nepal on her work towards women empowerment. In 2019 she was awarded the International Human Rights Award by the International Human Rights Council. She is also nominated as Woman Manager of the Year by Management Association of Nepal for her leadership to organize single women groups all over the country. By profession Lily is a Lecturer in the University of Nepal teaching Sociology and Gender and currently appointed as Honorary Member of the National Human Rights Commission

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