National Plan of Action to Combat Maltreatment of Widows

Last Updated May, 2010


Drafters should consider developing a national plan of action to combat the maltreatment of widows. Guidance can be found in the Beijing Platform for Action, which calls upon states to promulgate national plans of action. The Beijing Platform for Action recommends involving broad participation in the plan by national bodies that work on the advancement of women, the private sector, and other relevant institutions, including “legislative bodies, academic and research institutions, professional associations, trade unions, cooperatives, local community groups, non-governmental organizations, including women’s organizations and feminist groups, the media, religious groups, youth organizations and cultural groups, as well as financial and non-profit organizations” (¶¶ 294-95). Drafters should ensure that consultation is carried out with widows and civil society and takes into account the current context. The platform also emphasizes the importance of involving actors at the highest political levels, ensuring appropriate staffing and protocols are in place within ministries, having stakeholders review their goals, programs, and procedures within the framework of the plan, and engaging the media and public education to promote awareness of the plan (¶ 296). The plan should also address the roles and responsibilities of actors charged with implementing the plan. In this case, drafters should seek to engage and charge a wide range of actors as machinery for implementation. Relevant institutions include police, prosecutors, the judiciary, social services, children’s and juvenile authorities, equal opportunities offices, crime victim units, education, public health, prison and probationary authorities, disability agencies, administrative boards, immigration bureaus, cultural, religious, immigrant and ethnic community liaison offices, welfare, housing, religious groups, customary and local officials, offices working on issues related to women and girls, and civil society.


Drafters should mainstream women and girls’ human rights across diverse agency policies. They should ensure that other national development plans and poverty reduction strategies incorporate the relevant human rights standards related to women and girls into such programming and budgets. See: Theme: Addressing Gender Equality: A Persistent Challenge for Africa, Joint AU/ECA Conference of Ministers of Gender and Women’s Affairs, Aug. 25-29, 2008, p. 3.


Promising Practice: Sweden has developed an Action Plan for Combating Men’s Violence against Women, Violence and Oppression in the Name of Honour and Violence in Same-sex Relationships. The plan focuses on six main strategies:

·        increased protection and support to victims of violence

·        greater emphasis on preventive work

·        higher standards and greater efficiency in the judicial system

·        better measures targeting violent offenders

·        increased cooperation and coordination

·        enhanced knowledge and competence

It outlines several measures pertaining to each of the six strategies. In developing the plan, the Swedish Government adopted an overarching policy approach that uses a victim-centered approach and draws upon research. Its policy “overrid[es] ministry and agency lines, with the perspective of those at risk as the point of departure and based on the knowledge available on the areas concerned.”