WOMEN'S NETWORK, EUROPE
Via del Serraglio, 10 - 06073 Corciano - PG - Italy
Tel./Fax: (+39) 075 5068006
by Maria Teresa Marziali,
coordinator OWN Europe, Italy
Perhaps then the first most important aspect of a network is that older women have a point of reference where they are no longer alone, and they can begin to realise the extent of their knowledge and experience. The very fact of sharing these experiences and defining the problem areas they would like changed goes towards neutralising some of the social exclusion factors they are suffering, and gives them the opportunity to apply their skills in changing their lives.
As the Italian Minister of Social Affairs Livia Turco said a few months ago at the National Conference for the UN Year of Older People, welfare for older people it is not just a fair pension ń which is very important ń but also important is the quality of life and of relationships, services to the family, access to the information continuum, a real access to the Information and Communication Technology world.
The network structure itself works too because - although it is a structure - it is by nature organic and all-inclusive, there is no rigidly defined vertical hierarchy which restricts its natural growth and evolution. Women, having been so long excluded from social constructions formed by men, work well in this non-hierarchical situation.
So, with Own, Europe and OWN at national level we have found that the network structure works at a personal level (as a mean of supporting and encouraging older women) and at an organisational level as an instrument for democratic action. Then, in a rapidly changing social and political context we have the flexibility to identify issues, discuss policy initiatives and react to new possibilities much more efficiently than an organisation with complex consultation procedures. Information can then be disseminated to other countries. For example, the most recent publication of OWN (Europe) is a case study called In Our Own Time, in Our Own Way, produced by OWN (Ireland), which includes not only a very useful list of issues to be considered, but also suggestions on how to organise action and how to evaluate it. A summary of the study - in the form of a brochure - has been translated into every European language to help the development of networks in other countries.
About our Network
We seek to give older women the opportunity to develop their own voice at local level, whether in developing social and cultural programmes to meet their needs, or tackling policy issues relating to pensions, housing, health, continuing education and so on.
We are committed to operating an inclusive and open Network, reflecting our similarities and diversities, working together to influence policy development and change within our local communities as well at European level.
The Network's principal aims
Scope of activities
We invite women of all ages, together with researchers, policy makers and professionals concerned with older people's issues, to join us.
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