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Lords debates empowering women to build more stable societies


Tomorrow, Thursday 11 June, peers will debate the case for empowering women in the developing world, including widows, in order to aid conflict resolution and the long-term sustainability of more stable societies.

The debate will be opened by Lord Loomba, a long-standing campaigner for the empowerment of women, and in particular widows, in the developing world. Speaking ahead of the debate, Lord Loomba said:

“I recognise that everyone contributing to the debate has a common purpose, a common aim to improve the lives of women in developing countries and in doing so promoting peace and harmony; and global security, and I look forward to their contributions.

“We are all too familiar with the problems the world faces today from wars, civil strife, epidemics and also natural disasters. It is true that many women today in underdeveloped countries sustain harsh lives; lives punctuated by misery, by deprivation, by poverty; and most heinously of all sexual assaults and violence, brought on in part by these problems.

“But for widows, who often, in under developed countries form a sub-class, their humiliations and deprivation goes further; and often not brought on through epidemics, or in the name of war, but in the name of peace and family unity.

“The empowerment of widows to improve their social and economic strength is very important. In many societies they are treated very badly by their in-laws on the death of their husband. It is big problem, not just in one or two countries but around the world. There are many countries where women are not represented properly and held back, but if they are a widow they suffer even more from cultural practices and beliefs that leave widows destitute, unable to work to provide for their families and without a place to live. Of the many ways to help widows, education is one of the most potent tools in ensuring that future generations do not continue this inhumane treatment of widows.

“On behalf of the Loomba Foundation, I have advocated at the latest UN ECOSOC High-Level Segment, in May, to make the issues of widows' problems one that is part of the new Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals framework; the follow-up to the MDSs, the SDGs will be more specific in their nature and will aim to react to and ameliorate some of the most intractable problems suffered by mankind today.”

Other Members scheduled to speak include:

The Bishop of Derby, Baroness Prashar, Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead, Baroness Flather and Baroness Barker are also expected to take part in the debate.

Baroness Verma will respond on behalf of the Government.

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