Human Rights Advocacy
The Missing: Women bear a large part of the burden
When we think of missing persons, we think above all about the ways and means to find them. We tend to think less about those that are left behind. And yet, in numerous conflicts throughout the world, hundreds of thousands of people are left without news of their loved ones and in the majority of cases, it is the men who disappear and the women who lose husbands, fathers and sons.
Although it is important to use every means to find out the fate of those unaccounted for, it is equally important to support those who are left without news, having to face the enormous emotional burden and concrete consequences of the disappearance of their loved ones. For women, the aftermath can be particularly dire. When a woman's husband disappears and she is left without a death certificate, she is considered neither widow nor wife she has no rights over family possessions and often not even legal custody of her children. She is not entitled to a widow's pension and is unable to remarry.
What's more, she must provide for her family and ensure her children's education. For thousands of women around the world, this situation requires a huge amount of strength, courage and resilience.
Commentator is ICRC's women and war adviser.