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Who cares about older women's work?

This briefing paper seeks to raise awareness of the critical but invisible work that older women do - paid and unpaid - in developing country contexts. Because #OlderWomenMatter

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Published: 2018
Author: Age International
Pages: 16


Using original research conducted for Age International by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), this paper makes clear how gender norms and inequalities intersect with poverty, public health issues and human rights to drive older women to do paid and unpaid work that negatively affects their wellbeing – while their families, communities and economies depend heavily on the work they do.

Key highlights 

  1. 1 in 7 older women are in the workforce, in low and middle-income countries  
  2. Older women do more than twice the amount of unpaid care that older men do
  3. Older women do unpaid - often undesirable work - that few others are willing to. Yet this work is not counted in economic and labour data, rendering older women’s work invisible.
  4. Inequalities women face in society can continue into older age and be aggravated by age discrimination - making their lives worse, while they are helping others.
  5. Older women can benefit from doing different types of paid and unpaid work - provided the work is a choice and they have the right support.

Older women: the hidden workforce

Globally, older women are contributing unrecognised yet critical support to their families, communities and economies through their paid and unpaid work. Our report, Older women: the hidden workforce gives voice to older women’s experience of work and sets out recommendations for how to address this inequality.

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Last updated: Apr 25 2024

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