TODAY -

Female face of ageing in Asia Pacific

Shobha Shukla *



With declining fertility rates and increasing life expectancy, the proportion of people aged 60 and over is growing globally. There are currently 900,868 million people aged 60 or over worldwide (12.5% of the global population). Nearly two-thirds (533 million) of them are in the Asia Pacific region and it is at the forefront of the global phenomenon of population ageing. Due to their longer life expectancy, women constitute the majority (53.5%) of the population aged 60 or older in this region. In 2013, there were 229 million older men and 261 million women above 60 in the Asia-Pacific region.

The proportion of older women increases even more with increasing age, rising to 60% above age 80. 75% of the region’s centenarians are women. In Philippines there were 136 women aged 65 and older for every 100 men in 2015. Among those aged 75 and above there were 162 women for every 100 men.

This feminisation of ageing is an important and yet highly neglected women’s issue. It has profound and far-reaching social, economic and political implications. The gender dimensions of ageing are in the fore front of the HelpAge Asia-Pacific Regional Conference 2016, being currently held in Hanoi, on the theme of ‘The Economic Implications of Ageing’. There is a general consensus that female senior citizens are more disadvantaged than their male counterparts.

In an exclusive interview given to CNS (Citizen News Service), Dr John Roland Beard, Director of Department of Ageing and Life-Course at the World Health Organization (WHO), agreed that there are many issues that specifically confront older women. Women tend to live longer than men and also tend to get married to men older than themselves. So a higher proportion of older women are likely to be widowed without adequate income support.

Economically, women in many countries do not have the opportunity of building the same social security safety nets as is available for men. Men are often the primary earner in the family, and when the man dies, the pension amount (if any) is reduced or becomes totally inaccessible to the widow. In some parts of the world, like in Africa, women have no ownership rights over property, and when the husband dies the widow is reduced to penury.

Sexuality and ageing

Dr John Beard lamented that apart from economic and health problems, they have to grapple with isolation and loneliness too. In his candid opinion, "There is also the issue of sexuality in older people. Older people too have sexual rights just as younger people do. But sexual rights of senior citizens are not spoken about at all and society holds to deny that they too like to have sex. This becomes particularly harder for older women who live alone. This issue should not be brushed under the carpet."

Women do not have cushion of security in old age that men have

Thelma Kay, former Chief of the Social Development Division, UNESCAP and Senior Advisor on Ageing Issues, Ministry of Social and Family Development, Singapore, echoed similar sentiments. “Many women do not work and even for those who work, their careers are often interrupted due to raising of children and other family issues. As pensions are usually built up over working years, women often do not have that cushion of security in their old age that men have”.

Thelma pointed out that even though women live longer than men, their health does not remain as good. Instead of compressed morbidity women suffer from expanded morbidity. Women have different sets of medical problems and people do not realise that. They are sicker for longer periods - more so because of child bearing and other reproductive health related issues. Thus older women face worse health and financial security problems as compared to men.

Unfortunately these special issues of older women are not been given due attention. Women need to be educated enough to take care of their health and genealogists should be trained into women health issues more, felt Thelma. Older women too should have their own social networks which should be strengthened.

Mathew Cherian, Chief Executive of HelpAge India, finds Indian women becoming more housebound as they grow older. “In Delhi, we deal with around 600 associations working for older persons. But while older men do join in big numbers older women do not. Their participation is very low in all of them. But in religious places like temples, gurudwaras, and churches older women participation is more”.

This could also be the result of stereotype social constructs wherein after a certain age, Indian women are expected to spend all their time in prayers and other religious activities. Older women tend more to be part of prayer groups - singing hymns and bhajans. Mathew felt that perhaps one could involve older women could be involved in more socially productive activities through faith-based organisations.

Gender inequality and discrimination against women is perpetuated into old age. Women are more vulnerable to falling into poverty, often being more financially dependent than men due to lower participation in the workforce and lower education levels.

Invisibility of older women

The invisibility of older women is a serious global issue. The new post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognise the importance of older people and ageing for sustainable development. SDG-3, which talks about ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages, is particularly relevant.

Policymakers must focus on the challenges faced by an ageing female population and make inclusive policies for older women. They should not be left behind. The challenge is to ensure that governments follow their commitments around SDGs, by putting these goals into practice in a way that is fully inclusive of women and men of all ages.


* Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service) wrote this article for e-pao.net
The author is the Managing Editor to Citizen News Service (CNS) and is currently providing thematic coverage from the HelpAge Asia Pacific Regional Conference 2016 being held in Hanoi, Viet Nam, with kind support from the European Union (EU), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and HelpAge East Asia/Pacific Regional Office. Follow her on Twitter @Shobha1Shukla
This article was posted on September 09 2016.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • RK Meghen at Imphal [28 Nov] #3: Gallery
  • Destination NE @ Vanarasi #2: Gallery
  • Fireflies : Doc Film at Kathmandu Fest
  • Remove State Women Comm Chairperson
  • CAB 2019 : Great Constitutional Blunder
  • The Early Winter's Song :: Poem
  • 'Kumbhakarnas' have 'waked up'!
  • The Killing Fields 2013-19 : News Timeline
  • Against the enactment of CAB : DAMMS
  • Where is the solidarity ?
  • Traffic mess again
  • Mister Manipur 2019 #1 : Gallery
  • Nupi Lan- Women War Of Manipur: Articles
  • Stealthy swearing-in post, cabinet approval
  • Horrors of Kuki Rebellion 1917-1919
  • Relevance of Nehru today #3
  • Thadou Inpi welcomes ILP in Manipur
  • CAB: Protest at Jantar Mantar
  • Centre- yes to ILP; Understanding the crux
  • Extension of ILPS - Too early for celebration
  • Photos from 2012-2019 : Inner Line Permit
  • Miss Kut at Imphal #5: Gallery
  • Demand for Inner Line Permit (ILP) : Articles
  • Brahmacharimayum Mahendra : Silpbhusan
  • My worries in filing stories about Assembly
  • Silver jubilee of Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak
  • My DSLR Journey :: Travelogue
  • Career in CAPF
  • Killing 2 birds, 1 stone : No CAB, Yes ILPS
  • A phone call that overwhelm our CM
  • NTC opposes Pan Naga Hoho post solution
  • Inauguration: Sangai Fest #1: Gallery
  • Gaiguilung, Changbombi : eMing
  • Induction of NCC Microlite Aircraft : Gallery
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand : Timeline
  • Is disruption possible in Manipur politics?
  • Sex education: The unspeakable undeniable
  • CAB: Protest at Delhi University
  • KASHISH 2020 : Queer Film Festival
  • The rape circle is complete
  • WC refutes NNC pledging support to FA
  • Communities @ Shirui Lily Fest #1 : Gallery
  • Winter Relief @Tokpaching : Gallery
  • My way only :: Poem
  • Remembering Dr BR Ambedkar #1
  • Winter Relief Service at Arong Khunou
  • Karnataka-Manipur Cultural Festival
  • Workshop on MOOCs at NEHU
  • Beauty essential while traveling in winter
  • Reinstate workers fired in FCI
  • Significance of windows
  • Thanga Ningol to mapam #3 : Gallery
  • Xmas shopping @CCpur [Dec 6] : Gallery
  • Irawat and 1939 Women's War
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Cannot end AIDS without combating AMR
  • Power of Pranayama #2
  • Jobs @ Birla Emporiums, Khurai
  • Memo to BOSEM, Manipur
  • Appreciation to Kuki Iron Lady
  • Questions over 'instant justice'
  • Optimist perspectives
  • NE bandh call on Dec 10 against CAB
  • Football: Manipur vs Mandalay #2: Gallery
  • Flower festival at Mao : Gallery
  • #iWill :: Poem
  • H Nageshwar : Expedition to Antarctica
  • Relevance of Nehru today #2
  • Climate Change & Agricultural hurdles
  • The Rat on the Run :: Poem
  • Info from Delhi; Reading ILPS idea
  • Confusing the constitution
  • Finding on Yek of Meitei & Hao #1
  • Miss Kut at Imphal #4: Gallery
  • A Girl with Golden Hair :: Poem
  • NEP for Skill India
  • The great cosmic discovery - III
  • Interference by TA & Hills official
  • A one line statement from Amit Shah
  • Insertion of a clause to Peoples' Bill
  • RK Meghen at Imphal [28 Nov] #2: Gallery
  • Midnight drama, hush-hush swearing-in
  • Plight of peasants in the hills #2
  • Jobs @ Kanglei Khoni, Langthabal
  • Drones can be an innovative career
  • Winners @ South Asian Games
  • Winners @ Asian Athletic C'ship
  • Waiting for CBI probe
  • When the savior turns perpetrator
  • Tapta: Jayenta Loukrakpam :: A Profile
  • Destination North East @ Vanarasi : Gallery
  • Winter Book Sales at Manipur University
  • The Vow :: Poem
  • Written assurance is still not tenable
  • Protest against rape of woman vet
  • From 2012 to 2019 no change
  • The 'Trust' factor
  • NSCN (IM) clarifies on 'calendar' issue
  • Centre assures flights betn IMF & Mandalay
  • Sanathong Water Fall, Chandel : Gallery
  • Facts about Naga insurgency #2
  • CC Meet 2019 : Match Fixture
  • Commemoration Kuki Rebellion 1917-1919
  • Moirangthem Sushilkr : Honorary Doctorate
  • Power of Pranayama #1
  • Khumang: 'Science for Society' Report
  • A fresh look at ST demand
  • Wakching Thana Lakpada #1 :: eRang
  • Football: Manipur Vs Mandalay : Gallery
  • December Calendar for Year 2019 : Tools
  • Why not carve out a future in Chakhao ?
  • Relevance of Nehru today #1
  • The great cosmic discovery - II
  • Diversion - the age old shrewd game
  • Lamhui amashung Keishal : Funga
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Kut : State level @Imphal #4: Gallery
  • Sangai Festival: Extended till 2nd Dec
  • 133 months left to make U=U (on HIV)
  • Galaxy Roy & my Sainik memories
  • Need to silence the loud mouth
  • CAB issue raise in Zero Hour
  • RK Meghen at Imphal [28 Nov] #1: Gallery
  • Plight of peasants in the hills #1
  • Nawa Loude :: Poem
  • Awarded, outdated currencies & MCS/MPS
  • Social Unrest in N-E Regions
  • Winter care for beautiful hair
  • No harm but a clause needed: The absurdity
  • A blow to survival
  • Leirum- used in Luhongba : Gallery
  • Ningol Chakkouba Shopping #2 : Gallery
  • Road safety in Manipur: need to plug gap
  • AAI steps up effort for gender equality
  • Preparing children before diagnostic test
  • Licypriya Kangujam embarks on 5 Nations
  • One Word of Truth :: Poem
  • Riders in the assurance of Amit Shah
  • GK Pillai's way out and today's Manipur
  • Mera Houchongba @Kangla #5: Gallery
  • Facts on Naga insurgency & its impact #1
  • Binodkumar: public urinal with plastic waste
  • Joining Indian Navy as sailors
  • National Constitution Day observed
  • Condemn incident of molestation in CCpur
  • After a date with Amit Shah
  • Sustaining Evening daily- challenging task
  • Culturals @ Shirui Fest #3: Gallery
  • Banana Festival @ Noney #2 : Gallery
  • Air pollution rise what do common man do
  • Conversation with Prof Rajendra Kshetri
  • 'It is a unique experience to play polo here'
  • The great cosmic discovery - I
  • Make Delhi trip meaningful !
  • Confusing stand; confusing act
  • Manipur Polo International: Opening: Gallery
  • Kut : State level @Imphal #3: Gallery
  • Kalum Kai: House of worship of Zeliangrong
  • Christian virtues
  • Blame it on Farmers for Pollution
  • Title: Square one ? :: Poem
  • Bucket of cold water after a hot shower
  • Radio-tagged Amur falcon flies to Africa
  • Myanmar Air KBZ flight to Imphal: Gallery
  • Alert Rally @ Sagolband : Gallery
  • 50th International Film Festival
  • World Antibiotics Awareness Week (WAAW)
  • CAB : Indians are not foreigners
  • Dissolution of TSA Imphal Branch
  • Anti-corruption crusade at time of CAB
  • Gandhari (Dance Drama) #2 : Gallery
  • Epilogue to Nambul Nostalgia :: Poem
  • Hostile education system in Northeast
  • Stigma and mental illness
  • Paulallungmuan: 12 yr-old at Class X exam
  • 3 from Manipur named Unsung Heroes
  • Raids at Imphal, Aizawl, Gurgaon
  • Make sure that Sangai fest is successful
  • Laonii Festival, Poumai #2 : Gallery
  • Khamba Thoibi Museum #2 : Gallery
  • Enigma of Unique Histories
  • When God's people humble
  • The great cosmic discovery - V
  • TB prevention is no longer a choice..
  • Stakeholders to be consulted: Final pact
  • The unresolved crisis
  • IM leaders camping along India-Myanmar
  • Trekking to Dzukou Valley #3 : Gallery
  • Licypriya- SDG Ambassador Award: Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2019 #5: Gallery
  • Whither Pangals ?
  • Licypriya Kangujam: SDG Ambassador
  • Blood Donation Camp at Benguluru
  • The Sun on the Western Horizon :: Poem
  • Rejoinder to NDPP [20 November]
  • Regarding resignation of NPF Youth Wing
  • Rider to be exempted from CAB: ILP
  • Truth, sincerity & commitment ...
  • CAB : Total Shutdown - Nov 19 : Gallery
  • CAB : Sit In Protest - Nov 19 : Gallery
  • Dr Sanajaoba (Dr KS Singh): Reminiscence
  • Career option in technical writing
  • What Mindset does Govt of Manipur have ?
  • 12 Members resigned from NPF
  • Where is the special clause in CAB?
  • Please understand CAB; future is at stake
  • CAB protest - Nov 18 : Gallery
  • Children's Day @CM Bungalow : Gallery
  • Why CAB is being opposed in North East
  • Meeteis' paradox
  • A Vision :: Poem
  • NE development: Lean on regional planning
  • Sand War- deadly war against mother Earth
  • From 'ahead of final pact' to CAB
  • Can Meitei, Naga & Kuki jointly resist CAB?
  • Mera Houchongba @Kangla #4: Gallery
  • Ningol Chakouba Fish Fair #2: Gallery
  • Cry of a Dying River : 100 Poems
  • Culturals @ Shirui Fest #2: Gallery
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Pune : Gallery
  • Rani Hingchabi :: Funga Wari
  • Salt brines : Source of Meitei Thum
  • Ema Keithel (Khwairamband) #2: Gallery
  • Thanga Ningol to mapam #2 : Gallery
  • Ningol Chakkouba @ Korea : Gallery
  • Ningol Chakkouba @ Mysore #2 : Gallery
  • Ningol Chakouba & Kut at Korea
  • Ningol Chakkouba by Journalists : Gallery
  • Tolloi, Ukhrul :: 360 Panorama View
  • SPONSORED ADS