||OLDER WOMEN'S NETWORK, EUROPE
Via del Serraglio 10 -
06073 Corciano - PG, ITALY
Tel./Fax: (+39) 075 506 8006
http://own-europe.org - E-Mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT,
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
FROM PARTICIPANTS AT THE EUROPEAN CONFERENCE
"OLDER WOMEN AND SOCIAL EXCLUSION:
ISSUES / EMPOWERMENT / ACTION"
20-24 OCTOBER 1999
Participants at the European conference Older Women and Social Exclusion:
Issues / Empowerment / Action wish to affirm the contribution older women make to their families, communities
They also wish to affirm the right of older women to participate fully in all
aspects of society and have a voice in decision-making at all levels of
From older women's experience and current research it can generally be
- The majority of older people in all member states of the European Union
are women, the proportion increasing with increasing age.
- Three main resource factors have a decisive influence on the situation of
older women, namely resources related to the individual (income, family,
children), the local environment, and the size and form of social welfare
- Women have (and have had) different roles from those of men. In particular,
women have been responsible - and still are in older age - for the provision of
care to their families, partners, friends and neighbours, a task for which they
are not remunerated.
- The majority of older women are productively active in older age and are
not a burden on society. They are major taxpayers, consumers and volunteers.
- In no member state have women had the same opportunities as men to decide
to be economically active outside the home and, at the same time, to have a
family. Women have always been, and continue to be, more disadvantaged than men
in access to the labour market.
- Older women, to a greater extent than older men, are totally dependent on
minimum social welfare benefits. Thus they are particularly disadvantaged in
other income-related areas such as housing and leisure activities. This is
mainly because pension schemes are socially determined by men to suit male
patterns of employment that are not applicable to the majority of women.
- Older women have few opportunities to participate in the information
society, which reinforces their social exclusion.
- Older women experience age discrimination in traditional models of health
care. They are more likely to suffer chronic health conditions that are rarely
susceptible to a curative approach.
- When older women need care, there are unacceptable variations in standards,
quality and charges.
- There is insufficient research on gender and ageing to inform policy
As a consequence, the majority of women experience a range of disadvantages
in old age: low income, poor housing, poor health and care, lack of access to
information and communication technology as well as to educational
opportunities. These disadvantages are clearly the consequence of lifelong
inequality and have a major impact, contributing to the social exclusion of
Against this background of older women's experience, current research and
conclusions of the conference, delegates unanimously called on the European
Parliament, Council of Ministers and European Commission - through current
programmes and in the development of all relevant policies and action - to:
- Give value to the contribution older women make to the economy, their
communities and society.
- Re-examine all policies and programmes from a gender and lifetime
perspective with particular attention to income security and health at older
- Encourage national governments to develop policies that recognise women's
contribution, to entitlement and adequate universal public pension, irrespective
of employment record or marital status.
- Develop programmes to develop the capacity of older women as advocates of
their own interests.
- Ensure that older women can exercise their right to full citizenship and to
participate in public life and decision-making in national and local policy such
as transport, housing and the environment.
- Promote positive action to challenge the discrimination against minority
ethnic older women and other particularly disadvantaged groups.
- Promote action and programmes to facilitate the equal distribution of
caring responsibilities between women and men.
- Promote standards in residential and nursing care that include those set
by older people themselves guaranteeing dignity, autonomy and choice,
irrespective of financial circumstances.
- Promote the participation of older women in the information society by
awareness campaigns, training initiatives and ensuring access to affordable
technology, with particular emphasis on socially excluded older women.
- Promote action to challenge age and gender discrimination in health care,
and to encourage governments to promote a holistic approach including health
promotion, prevention, maintenance, rehabilitation, in addition to the
- Promote action research involving older women; quantitative research
analysed and reported by gender and age; qualitative studies highlighting gender
and cultural differences to make a significant contribution to the planning and
development of better targeted services.
- Ensure that development co-operation with countries in the South takes
account of older women's needs.
- Ensure that governments give attention to the interests and concerns of
older women in the implementation of the Beijing Global Platform for Action.
For further information, please contact the
Older Women's Network, Europe
Via del Serraglio, 10 - 06073 Corciano - PG - Italy
Telephone/Telefax + 39 075 506 8006