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.
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.
As Jane Ashcroft, CEO of Anchor and Trustee of Silverline wrote in her essay:
“As a society and for ourselves, don’t we need to see every older woman as an individual and … improve visibility - instead of ‘Oh I didn’t see you there’ can we say ‘ah, I’ve been looking for you’?”
Sally-Marie Bamford, editor of the report and Assistant Director, Research and Strategy said:
“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.”
The compendium is available to download from http://www.ilcuk.org.uk/index.php/publications/publication_details/has_the_sisterhood_forgotten_older_women The hashtag is #olderwomen
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