According to WHO (World Health Organization), aging “at the biological level, results from the impact of the accumulation of a wide variety of molecular and cellular damage over time. This leads to a gradual decrease in physical and mental capacity, a growing risk of disease, and ultimately, death. But these changes are neither linear nor consistent, and they are only loosely associated with a person’s age in years. While some 70-year-olds enjoy extremely good health and functioning, other 70-year-olds are frail and require significant help from others. Beyond biological changes, aging is also associated with other life transitions such as retirement, relocation to more appropriate housing, and the death of friends and partners. In developing a public-health response to aging, it is important not just to consider approaches that ameliorate the losses associated with older age, but also those that may reinforce recovery, adaptation and psychosocial growth.”
The feminization of aging is a process that has begun in India but is not occurring uniformly throughout India. Older women are more likely to be widowed, poor, and suffer vulnerability to adverse outcomes like poor health. With the changing social landscape of India, middle-income older women are increasingly opting for ‘pay and stay homes’, an emerging type of old age home in India. Majority of the 97 women residents of ‘pay and stay’ homes reported being widowed (68%), and 25% were childless. Childlessness and widowhood were important considerations in the decision to relocate to an old age home. Older women reported higher degrees of psychological closeness and contact with daughters than sons, and the overall social network size was small. High prevalence of diabetes rates among older women carries implications for potential functional disability. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21767085/)
According to a 2008 UNDP study, 65 per cent of widows in India are over 60 years old. Of these, only 28 per cent are eligible for pension. However, only 11 per cent actually receive it. Also in the Global Age Watch Index 2014, India ranks 71 among 96 countries in elderly (60 years plus) care. India has the second highest population of elderly in the world, projected to rise to 12 per cent of the total population by 2020. Eight per cent of the elderly are in rural areas, with 40 per cent below the poverty line and over 73 per cent illiterate. Worse, 90 per cent have no social security cover and 50 per cent of bedridden days are ascribed to elderly patients. The research study, The Global Report on Ageing in the 21st Century (UNFPA and HelpAge International 2012), reinforces the observation that in India older persons, particularly older women, experience multiple discriminations, including limited access to jobs and health care, abuse, denial of the right to own and inherit property and lack of minimum basic income and social security. (https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/%E2%80%98Situation-worse-for-old-women-in-India%E2%80%99/article14572641.ece)
Most of the population of older women are living in poor conditions. The consequences of aging and poverty are not merely traumatic; they violate the human rights of the elderly. Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims: “Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to the realization, through national effort and international cooperation . . . of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his[/her] dignity and the free development of his[/her] personality.”
Put simply, poverty among older people, combined with social exclusion and discriminatory attitudes, is a violation of human rights. Poverty, social exclusion, and discriminatory attitudes are generally more acute for older women than they are for older men. Women’s disadvantaged status in childhood and adulthood is intensified in older age. Aging is a women’s issue not only because the majority of older people are women but also because aging is a gendered experience. Throughout life “and in all societies,” writes Clara Pratt, whose work is referenced in a 1999 UN International Institute on Ageing publication, “males and females play different roles, receive different rewards, and experience differing realities. . . . Many have suffered throughout their lives from poor health care, malnutrition, illiteracy and low social status simply because they were born female.” These gendered experiences come together and may be magnified at the end of a woman’s life. “
After analyzing the above-mentioned facts and circumstances that old women have to face, it is quite necessary for the governments of the nations to focus on them too. The vulnerability old women face is beyond imagination. Most of them are poor and illiterate in India. Some of them have even been victims of assault and rape. Stricter laws might reduce these unfortunate events. Getting these women simple jobs would allow them to earn and provide for themselves.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.
We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge