Lack of data renders older women invisible in the face of violence and discrimination, says HelpAge International

HelpAge International is calling for more to be done to end violence and abuse against older women, saying that a lack of data is leaving them at risk.

"Data on physical and sexual violence against women usually stops at age 49, effectively excluding a quarter of the world’s women," said Bridget Sleap, Senior Rights Policy Adviser at HelpAge, speaking at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) this week.

“When women reach age 50 any violence and abuse against them usually goes unrecorded.” 

HelpAge has signed a joint NGO statement for CSW, taking place this month, calling for comprehensive data collection, disaggregated by age and gender, and effective policies and legislation to tackle abuse and violence towards women.

With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals last year, all 193 UN member states agreed to work to "achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls", but some of the indicators used to measure progress towards this goal ignore older women.

Targets in the SDGs to eliminate female genital mutilation and ensure women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services will monitor progress by only looking at women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49. The experiences of women over the age of 49 will be ignored.

Member states and civil society groups have been successful in calling for the removal of age brackets measuring violence against women and the prevalence of certain diseases. HelpAge wants concrete commitments to remove the age brackets where they still exist.

A 2013 UN report, Neglect, Abuse and Violence Against Older Womenhighlights that older women are often excluded from legislation on domestic violence and that greater understanding of the neglect, abuse and violence they experience is needed.

In a joint WHO-UN report surveying 133 countries, only 17% reported having data on elder abuse. Although 59% said they have laws to prevent elder abuse, only 30% said that these were fully enforced.

"This year’s commission is a great opportunity for the world to address the challenges faced by older women," said Toby Porter, Chief Executive Officer at HelpAge, also speaking at the commission.

"The international community needs to recognise that women experience multiple, intersecting forms of discrimination and it’s only by addressing all of them that the goal of gender equality can be realised."


Note to Editors:

About HelpAge International

HelpAge International helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives. Our work is strengthened through our global network of like-minded organisations - the only one of its kind in the world.

To read HelpAge International’s joint NGO statement for the commission, visit:

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