Older Persons

Older Persons

Older women account for 54% of the global population aged 60 years and above, and 61% of those aged 80 years and above. By 2030, the number of persons aged 60 years or over is projected to grow to 1.4 billion

Many older women are valuable contributors to their families, their communities, and to the national economy. However, others find themselves in a position of vulnerability, ostracised or abandoned, as a result of a lifetime of discrimination, particularly in terms of education and employment. Inadequate social protection programmes mean that they can often fall into poverty, and older women often face discrimination in many areas of their lives, including healthcare, financial services, access to development programmes, and ownership and disposal of property.

Where We Stand

“Soroptimist International calls immediate attention to the growing population of older women and denounces the tendency for women beyond reproductive age to be invisible not just from policies and programmes, but from society as a whole. Women have often experienced a lifetime of discrimination which culminates in a multitude of challenges faced in the post-reproductive years, including a lack of security, protection, access to resources, access to education, and access to health care.”

Older women on the SI Road to Equality

The empowerment of women and girls requires a life-course approach.  The rights of women and girls do not stop at age 49 (after which there is insufficient data on women).  Lower educational levels of older women seriously limit their access to information and services, particularly for healthcare, or ability to take part in social economic or political activities, or to better support the education of younger generations.  Their autonomy and independence are curtailed because of the need to totally rely on family members.  In some societies, the loss of a husband results in social exclusion and loss of property .

Inclusion of older women in the work of Soroptimists is necessary to ensure that efforts made to empower women and girls through education are not wasted when they reach older age, and find themselves discriminated against once again, with little if any access to justice, perhaps subject to violence, abuse and neglect, lacking in adequate and appropriate health services, and deprived of autonomy and independence.  The “feminization” of ageing has important implications for policy.

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