Why have we established WomanGoingPlaces as a social enterprise advocating for the economic security and social inclusion of Australian women aged 50+?
In Australia, the US, England and indeed globally, older women are facing significant economic insecurity and social exclusion, particularly since the pandemic. Over a million Australian women 50+ are already below the poverty line and more than 400,000 are homeless. They are the demographic becoming homeless in greatest numbers at the fastest rate.
WomanGoingPlaces is dedicated to spotlighting this crisis and to advocating for action. Our journalism identifies the broader issues of the position of women 50+ in our society. We campaign against the barriers, discrimination and general invisibility we face. This is our social purpose.
Society is entering new territory and older women are its pioneers. Women aged 50 can expect to have almost another half a century of life. Millions of women around the world are living into their 90s and this is unprecedented in human history. Unlike previous generations, many older women have had access to education, the professions and skilled employment, in addition to unpaid and manual labour.
But governments and societies around the world have no idea what to do with an ageing population of women. By 2030, 28.7% of Australians will be aged 55 and over. * The majority will be women. Women over 50 already represent 35% out of the total Australian female population of 12.9 million.*
There are no policies and no roadmaps for such a radical change in the composition of society and the impact it will have on the economy.
Instead, this whole issue is overlooked, ignored and cloaked with a mantle of invisibility by governments, business, the media, and sometimes even some women’s organisations.
Examples of Invisibility
Some recent examples:
When the Australian Federal Government promoted Budget 2021 as a Women’s Budget, funds were allocated for women with children in childcare and for women in aged care. But nothing for women in between those age groups, and no social housing to address their homelessness.
Quite the opposite. The Federal Government has cut funding to unemployed older women who constitute the majority on Jobseeker thereby accelerating their impoverishment.
When Tim Reed, the president of the Business Council of Australia stated that “participation of women in the workforce is the biggest lever Australia has to expand the economy,” he must realise that the pink recession cannot be overcome as long as half of the business leaders surveyed in a report by the Human Rights Commission and Australian HR Institute said they would not employ anyone over 50. Ageism is depriving Australia of this massive resource of highly experienced professionals and skilled workers.
When an important recent study by an authoritative women’s group extolled flexibility to enable greater participation, advancement and equality of women in the workforce, it principally looked at women with children. The study did not reference the needs of older women who no longer have children at home or who have no children. Flexibility would also encourage these older women into the workforce in greater numbers albeit for a different set of reasons.
When a national conference was recently held by leading Australian women to promote gender equality and to comprehensively examine the barriers faced by different groups of women, women 50+ did not even make it on to the conference program.
When the media covers domestic violence, it does not report that almost a third of women killed by men are over the age of 50. Nor does the media sufficiently report that sexual assault and rape is committed against women of all ages. It took the Royal Commission to reveal that there are over 50 cases of sexual assault per week in residential aged care.
Nor is there sufficient coverage in the media of women defying the stereotypes of older women. Older women are in fact forging remarkable careers and making a difference. It is actually women over 50 who make up the majority of start-up and small business entrepreneurs. Ironically, many have been forced to do this because they couldn’t find employment due to age discrimination.
Women 50+ are society’s unlikely innovators, re-inventing ourselves, and re-defining how women age. WomanGoingPlaces will continue to tell the stories of women doing exactly that.
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Founder & Editor WomanGoingPlaces
- Source, ABS Population Projections Australia
- Source ABS Population as at June 2020, Australia