Countries where the number of widows is the highest are those scarred, as the noble Lord, Lord Loomba, has just said, by significant past or current conflict, for example Afghanistan and Ukraine. The Legatum Prosperity Index clearly demonstrates this—I refer to my interests as set out in the register. It shows that a lack of safety and security in a country is the most significant barrier to development and prosperity. The countries at the bottom of the index are those, such as Yemen, the Central African Republic, Sudan and Afghanistan, which have experienced significant conflict. For many women recently widowed in conflict, their situation will be compounded by the effects of that ongoing conflict. Many will become refugees and be at serious risk of being trafficked; 71% of the detected victims of human trafficking are women and girls, and it is known that traffickers prey on women, such as recent widows, who are not accompanied by men and find themselves in vulnerable situations. Many trafficked women may have started their journey as a refugee fleeing war, having lost their partner.

It is also no accident that many of the countries which find themselves in the bottom third of the Legatum Prosperity Index are among those with the poorest record on women’s rights, education and economic empowerment. It is evident that a nation cannot fully reach its potential when only half of its human capital is empowered.

Read Philippa's speech here.