Does life start at 60? Not for many women. Here‘s why and what you can do to make a difference.

Discrimination against older people persists across all our societies. When we look specifically at older women, the inequality is even more pronounced.


A female lifetime is more likely to include a lack of security, protection, access to resources, education and health care. These challenges are often exacerbated and added to as the years pass. By the time a woman reaches retirement and old age, this has culminated in a multitude of challenges.


A lifetime of reduced opportunities and a more pronounced physical devaluation than men experience means that senior women are frequently excluded, have fewer choices and receive inferior services. Their access to training, employment and health care is often limited, they are often not seen as a priority and are even regularly overlooked by political reforms.


“Treating people differently because of their advanced age is a form of discrimination that is rarely denounced”.


Bintou Koïta, SIE HQ as Senior Programme Officer


Treating people differently because of their advanced age is a form of discrimination that is rarely denounced because ageism tends to be generalized, entrenched in our society. The rights of older persons aim to ensure that the rights enjoyed by everyone do not diminish or become less important with age and that everyone – regardless of age – can participate and contribute to our societies, as well as to benefit from it.


A human rights-based approach allows older people to become actors in society and to offer their knowledge, know-how and experience. Many seniors contribute significantly to the social, political, economic and cultural life of their country, as workers, caregivers, volunteers, grandparents, consumers and political actors. Recognising their equal rights means respecting them as full members of society, regardless of age or any other consideration, such as state of health.


As a global voice for women, we should call immediate attention to support both regional, national and local policies and legislation that are necessary in order to have a quantifiable impact on the lives of older people. We should underline a life-course approach of educating, empowering, and enabling opportunities for women of all ages, including the specific needs of older women.


Bintou Koïta, Senior Programme Officer at SIE HQ