In honour of International Women’s Day, we bring you the top five concerns for older women. How do you think that progress can be made in these areas?

1. Women and Poverty
The feminization of poverty occurs in all countries, as mass poverty in many developing countries and as pockets of poverty amidst wealth in developed countries. The risk of falling into poverty is greater for women than for men, particularly in old age where social security is based on the principle of continuous remunerated employment. Adequate safety nets must be established and state-based and community based support systems implemented in order to ensure that men and women are on equal footing.

2. Education and Training of Women
The low educational level of older women challenges their full participation in the public and political life of the country. The goal of equal access to education must be advanced by taking measures to eliminate discrimination in education at all levels on the basis of gender, race, language, religion, national origin, age or disability, or any other form of discrimination, and as appropriate, consider establishing procedures to address grievances.

3. Women and Health
Postmenopausal conditions and diseases tend to be neglected in research, academic studies, public policy, and service provision. While women tend to outlive men in terms of life expectancy women’s quality of life is in danger of being compromised without specific understanding of the older women’s physical, functional and mental health needs. Health care service provision must be affordable, appropriate and accessible especially for those who live in rural areas.
The inter-relationship of ageing and disability among all women needs particular attention. The long-term health prospects of women are influenced by changes at menopause, which, in combination with lifelong conditions, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity, may increase the risk of disabilities.

4. Violence Against Women
Older women are particularly vulnerable to physical, sexual, and psychological harm because of their economic and physical dependency both within the family and in society in general. This abuse often remains hidden and is therefore ignored. Improved gender-disaggregated and age-specific data on victims and perpetrators of all forms of violence against women of all ages must be developed.

5. Human Rights of Women
The World Conference on Human Rights (1993) reaffirmed that the human rights of women throughout the life cycle are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights.
The gap between the existence of legal rights and their effective enjoyment derives from a lack of commitment by governments to promoting and protecting those rights and the failure of governments to inform women and men alike about them.

Want more information on older women’s rights? Check out this video from HelpAge International.