A recent report titled ‘Women and Ageing: Invisible or Empowered?’ sheds light on various aspects of the lives of older women, including elder abuse, discrimination, financial resources, employment, healthcare, and safety. The report, released by HelpAge India on the occasion of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, focused on older women in Bengaluru.
According to the report, about 33 per cent of senior women in Bengaluru are engaged in either full-time or part-time employment. Encouragingly, 85 per cent of them stated that they worked in an employment-friendly environment. Financial security was mentioned by 6 per cent of senior women, attributing it to family support and government pensions.
The study highlighted the issue of elder abuse, with 49 per cent of the women acknowledging its existence in society. Shockingly, 16 per cent of respondents admitted to having experienced abuse at the hands of their family members, including sons, daughters-in-law, and other relatives.
Conducted across the country, the research included a sample size of 7,911 senior women aged between 60 and 90 years, with 578 women from Karnataka considered for the study. The report exposed significant gender inequality and the vulnerability of elderly women nationwide. Disturbing statistics revealed that 54 per cent of the women were illiterate, 43 per cent were widowed, 16 per cent experienced abuse, 75 per cent had no savings, and 66 per cent did not own any assets.
Rohit Prasad, CEO, HelpAge India, highlighted the importance of addressing these issues, stating that older women often become neglected and invisible as they age. The report also showcased positive aspects, with 55 per cent of women in the state (excluding Bengaluru) involved in some form of employment. Moreover, an overwhelming 98 per cent of older women in Karnataka felt that their workplaces were supportive and respectful towards senior citizens.
The report’s findings emphasised the growing population of older women and the need to address their unique challenges. Currently comprising 11 per cent of the total female population in 2021 (7 crores out of 66 crores), it is projected to increase to 14 per cent by 2031 (10 crores out of 72 crores).
Overall, the report’s data underscores the need for society to recognise and address the issues faced by older women, promoting their empowerment and ensuring their well-being.