In celebration of International Women’s Day 2013 on March 8th, the International Longevity Centre–UK has published a compendium of essays entitled “Ageing and Women: Has the sisterhood forgotten older women?”
While it is widely acknowledged the world is ageing, the intersection of age with gender has been historically ignored. Invariably women and men, as they age, share many of the same fundamental needs, yet in many parts of the world, older women are not only subject to specific challenges, but also make significant contributions to their family, communities and wider society that are often overlooked.
38 essays penned by high profile authors present a picture of our ageing society that is unprepared and in some instances unwilling to respond to the new female demographic dividend. Many of the essays reveal that while women are living longer this does not necessarily imply a happier or healthier older life, with older women shown to be at greater risk of abuse, isolation and loneliness and poverty.
During the presentation of the book in the House of Lords on March 7th Baroness Greengross, Chief Executive of the ILC-UK, said: “International Women’s Day is a day for celebrating the achievements of women across the world and yet it also provides an opportunity for a ‘societal stocktake’. As our collection of essays clearly reveals, somewhere along the way we seem to have relegated older women to the second class seats in our fight for gender equality. Not only do we need to advance and empower dignity in older age, we also need to make sure we embrace and harness the significance and potential of our older female population.”
The essays show that while some women in their sixties, seventies and eighties may not think of themselves as old, many women of a certain age feel at best invisible and at worst considered a burden for the younger generation, with older woman’s contribution to society considered non-existent. Yet in fact older women are the social glue that binds our families and communities together, for example as carers, and yet none of this is seen as significant. Furthermore, older women can find themselves battling for the benefits that younger women take for granted.
“This collection of essays provides a marker for future change, it represents a united dissatisfaction with the status quo and as a result we will be launching an Older Women’s Policy and Research Action Alliance to drive this agenda forward”, said Sally-Marie Bamford, editor of the report and Assistant Director, Research and Strategy.
To download the compendium click here.