Due to women often marrying much older men, and women having a longer life expectancy than men, there are millions of widows in India. This has for decades created many problems, as widows are often considered problematic within families, for example, in many instances, widows lose their inheritance rights and experience property disputes, causing them to be driven away by their unsupportive families.
India has the largest population of widows in the world, current estimates suggest there are 55 million widows in the country (Gender Security Project, 2021). The population of over 60s is expected to grow by 326% between 2000 and 2050, and as such, the percentage of widows will only increase in Indian society. The Indian government has introduced various laws and policies to eliminate the inequity faced by widows and increase equality for this group, however, it is also important to eradicate the stigmas, myths, and patriarchal attitudes towards these women.
Centre for Rural Systems and Development (CRUSADE) have created respectful spaces for what they call ‘The elderly women’s project’. CRUSADE has made significant contributions to their lives and there is a lot of mutual respect between widows and the CRUSADE staff. This enables better access for widows to appropriate health care and support and some of the livelihoods programmes. Women are helped in a big way through health check-ups but what they most fondly speak about, is the social outings they participate in.CRUSADE