Widow of India
  • Widow of India

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar (26th September 1820 - 29th July 1891), a compassionate scholar and reformer, had championed the cause of widow and widow remarriage in India. He was pained to see the glaring discrimination meted out to them in the name of daily rituals of 'purity' and 'cleansing.' The position of these unfortunate women were pitiable, whose heads were shaven, made to wear red or white sarees without ornaments and eat single meals. Those who were prevented from performing 'Sati' ( an ancient Indian tradition of the immolation of a widow on her husband's pyre), led even a deplorable life, reduced to that of hardship and austerity.

Today, more than a century later, the apathy and insensitivity toward widows remain unchanged to a large extent. Even today, they suffer alone,being abandoned by their family and left to live under miserable conditions.

But things are looking brighter now and are set to change, all thanks to the efforts by a young girl.

Jyoti Yadav, a 13-year-old, from Alwar district, Rajasthan, had seen her mother, a widow, suffer incessantly at the hands of the villagers and family, from a very young age.

She witnessed her mother being ostracized by the villagers and was not allowed to leave the house or attend any community functions such as weddings. The villagers believed that the presence of a widow in a marriage function,was inauspicious and brought ill omen to the new family.

Unable to withstand the humiliation and disrespect heaped on her mother, Jyoti decided to change the plight of widows.

She approached her Head teacher and told her that she would like to change the way people think about widows in India.

In 2010, she started campaigning for this cause. She went from house to house trying to convince people to change their attitude and stop the discrimination shown to them.

" Initially,nobody listened to me, as i was so small. Often, i would be thrown out but i did not lose courage and went right back."

She started enacting 'nukkad nataks' ( street plays) with 4-5 friends as taught by her teachers. Eventually, the elders decided to give her a hearing but she faced quite a lot of opposition, especially from the men.

" They couldn't digest the fact that a girl was breaking their customs and would beat us up," she says. But that hardly mattered for her.

Unfettered, she carried on to help improve the status of widows in her society.

Her efforts finally paid off.

Widows, like her mother, are now employed as 'anganwadi' workers and are paid Rs.3,500 monthly. They also lead Saksharta Mission ( a Govt. of India initiative for spreading education in every nook and corner of the country) and actively participate in social events.

Jyoti Yadav's campaign: " A widower is never held responsible for his wife's death. So why people start calling the widow a 'witch' and accuse her of her misfortune ?" is now spreading its wings to other villages as well.

Her efforts have been recognized finally and the results have been tremendous.

The immense courage and hope shown by her is inspiring, to say the least. The maturity to see, that what is happening around her is wrong and to act upon it, is truly commendable. I hope through her and many others, the stigma attached to widows, is erased. I hope to see her campaign reach a National level, where the Government actively promotes and encourages such steps, more.

The status of women in modern India, is bit of a paradox. If on one hand, she is at the peak of her ladder of success, on the other hand she is silently suffering the violence afflicted by her own family members. As compared with past, women in modern India have achieved a lot. But still there are many roadblocks in her path. They have mastered in many fields but still have a long way to go to achieve equal status in our society.

If a young girl can, then we also can.Let us not allow the widows to die unsung. They deserve a fulfilling life too,cherished with dreams and emotions, as much as any other in the society. The following lines from the 'Song of an African Woman' beautifully sums up the desire of every Indian women:

I have only one request. I do not ask for money Although i have need of it, I do not ask for meat.. I have only one request,

And all i ask is, That you remove The road block From my path.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Ending Gender-Based Violence 2012.

Comment on this Post


You've just celebrated Jyoti and many others like her, and I enlist in celebrating such a worthy and noble cause.

What you've shared about the plight of widows in your country is not far from what obtains in my country. Right now, I just may not be able to tell which is worse off. To give you a glimpse, imagine that the Igbos (one of the major ethnic groups in Nigeria), have a traditional practice that insists on a widow drinking a portion of the water that is used to wash her dead husband's body. This is done to determine if she was responsible for his death. Dearest Mukut, what could be worse than such a dastardly practice?

I hope more Jyoti's are borne the world over!

Love you and your writing.


Dearest Olanike,

Thank you so much for writing in. Your thoughts and reflections on my posts matter a lot. What you described about the Igbos of Nigeria, is despicable, to say the least.

But i know this thinking will change.It is near. And we will help in bringing that change.

Again,much appreciate your comments. You yourself write beautifully.

Love and hugs,

Mukut Ray


It is amazing to read stories about one person who has the courage to say "I will do whatever it takes to make a change". It is very uplifting to read positive stories in a world where most news channels focus on stories with a shock factor.

Thanks for sharing. Mya

Dearest Mya,

Thank you so much for writing in. I went through your journal.It was lovely to read and even the picture spoke a thousand words.

You are truly gifted.

Much love

Mukut Ray

Dear Mukut,

What an inspiring story you have shared with this community! Joyti seems like an amazing young woman and the world is a better place because of her. Thanks for telling this story, which will hopefully inspire more of us to believe that we can be the change we wish to see in the world. Do you know of any other resources we can share about Jyoti's campaign?

All the best, Kirsten

I wonder if this is what is meant in the bible when it says "And a child shall lead the way". Wow.



Wendy Stebbins Founder/CEO I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Dearest Kliszk,

Yes,it is for people like Jyoti that the world is a better place.

Along with spearheading empowerment of widows in India, Jyoti has taken the initiative to collect funds for her school,by running the Delhi Half Marathon. Through this, she wishes to highlight the need for holistic development and education at village levels. She is a true leader not only for her peers but also for us.

Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

Much love,

Mukut Ray


Thank you so much for your reply.May there be more 'Jyoti's' leading our way. Incidentally Jyoti means 'light' in Hindi and she truly has shown light to many.

much love,

Mukut Ray


Thanks as always. by the way I read Hindi every day as my strength. I read The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita explained by Paramhansa Yogananda as remembered by his disciple Swami Kriyananda. It is my favorite thing in the world, next to my kindle. Haha.

es she is a light. But we ALL ara light, the light if you will. THe more authentic the more light we radiate.



Wendy Stebbins Founder/CEO I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.


It is lovely to know that you read the Bhagavad Gita.No wonder your thoughts and ideas are so profound and deep.

Kudos to you.May you shine more.

Love you,

Mukut Ray

Thanks/. For me it resonates.

have a good day.


Wendy Stebbins Founder/CEO I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

thank you Makut Ray, some beings are born with the charisma and determination , and others let her lead with their open guidance. blessed be, and thannk you Makut for commenting on me "a birth center on every corner" post.

Hi Rahmana,

I do not know you but I wanted to tell you how poetic and wonderful your words to Makut Ray were.

Love and ubuntu(I am who I am because of who we are together),

Wendy Stebbins

Wendy Stebbins Founder/CEO I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

alas, unable to find makut ray's site and what i said............. thank you for replying to whatever it is i said. i love your words your story. and i just requested to add you to my community

I agree with Rahmana. You have a specialness in your writing that does and will continue to make a big difference. Keep it coming.

Thinking of you.

Love and ubuntu,


Wendy Stebbins Founder/CEO I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.