Some of the most difficult images of the Ukraine war have been of older women, trapped helpless in their beds in bombed out homes. Women left alone without family, or left by their families because they were unable to flee to safety in other countries.
It has been described as the oldest humanitarian crisis in the world with 24% of Ukraine’s 8.9 million population over 60 years old. Despite humanitarian efforts, older Ukrainians face disproportionate barriers to accessing essential items and support, due to poverty and the limited accessibility of assistance, services, and information.
Significantly, the first nationally representative report has been released about older people in the Ukraine war. It is based on a survey held as recently as December 2022. Some of its key findings are that older women are more at risk than older men. It found that older women are facing greater financial difficulties and barriers to accessing essential goods and assistance.
Comparative disadvantage of older women
* 61% of women report that they do not have enough money to cover their basic needs, compared to 46 per cent of men.
* Women’s average pensions are 30% smaller than those of men. While 22% of older women live below the government’s minimum monthly subsistence level of 2,093 UAH ($57), only 13% of older men do.
* 34% of women live alone, compared to just 24% of men.
* For those who live with others, women are less likely to be the head of their household, and therefore may have less power in decision-making, including control over finances and purchases.
*There are nearly three times as many internally displaced older women (14%) than older men (5%).
* More older men (22%) reported receiving humanitarian assistance from NGOs and INGOs than older women (13%).
There are a number of likely factors for this finding, including that there are more older women than older men in the population; older women more often live alone; are less likely to still be in the workforce and thus interacting with others; and report lower mobile phone and internet use, all resulting in less access.
For more information see both the full report and the summary report here.
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