Advance gender equality

We strive to ensure that older people of all genders enjoy equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities. We envisage a world where individuals, in all their diversity, are treated fairly and without discrimination. 

When people are embraced equally, they can reach their full potential, benefiting both themselves and society as a whole.  

At HelpAge, we are committed to eliminating all forms of gender inequality. Our approach promotes diversity, inclusivity, and respect for human rights, enabling all older people to lead fulfilling and dignified lives. 



Why is gender equality important at HelpAge?

Gender equality is pivotal for achieving HelpAge's mission, as it permeates all aspects of our work and plays a central role in fostering social justice, protecting human rights, and supporting sustainable development.

Challenging the assumption that older people are genderless or asexual is vital to addressing ageism. Gendered processes continue to shape the lives of people in older age, intensifying disadvantages faced by women and potentially disempowering men.   

Understanding gender relations and power dynamics throughout life is essential to comprehend the experience of ageing. Whilst it is often older women who have less access to resources, power and opportunities, men’s lives may also be adversely affected by their gender roles in older age. 

In line with our 2030 Strategy, we prioritise the well-being, dignity, and voice of older people in their diverse identities. Neglecting gender inequalities poses a risk of perpetuation and exclusion. Therefore, recognising and addressing gender disparities is essential for fostering inclusivity, meeting the needs and rights of all older people, and ensuring that our approach promotes equal opportunities and outcomes. 


Gender-based discrimination can accumulate throughout a person’s lifetime and become more pronounced in old age due to a variety of factors. Older women often face double discrimination based on both their age and their gender, while older men can experience challenges to their masculinity that can lead to feelings of isolation. 

Gender inequality significantly impacts health outcomes, particularly for older women who often lack access to health and care services and are likely to spend a greater proportion of their lives in ill health or disability.   

Additionally, older women are more likely than men to take on unpaid care responsibilities within their families or work in the informal sector, leading to lower earnings and limited entitlement to pensions or retirement benefits. These factors contribute to increased poverty and social exclusion in old age. Older women who provide care may be more valued compared to non-working older men, who might have been away from home for extended periods due to work-related migration or other reasons, potentially exposing them to a risk of neglect. 

Gender-based violence is a pervasive issue that can occur at any stage of life, with long-lasting effects. For women, the cumulative impact of gender-based violence can hinder their ability to accumulate assets, harm their physical and mental health, and diminish their agency and voice. Similarly, individuals who are vulnerable to gender-based violence due to their sexual orientation or gender identity may also face similar consequences. 

Play video

United for older women’s rights

In Kenya, older people can be subjected to harmful practices such as witchcraft accusations. Violence and killings disproportionately affect older women, particularly poor, old widows living in rural areas.

Helen is a human rights activist fighting against this harmful practice in Kisii County in Kenya. She champions for the rights of older people accused of practicing witchcraft. This is her inspiring story.

What is HelpAge doing?

  • Technical assistance: We support non-governmental organisations (NGOs), UN agencies and governments to integrate a gender and ageing perspective into policies, programmes, and organisational structures and operations. This ensures that both older women and men can influence, participate in and benefit from development and humanitarian interventions and creates environments that truly promote gender equality. This is called gender mainstreaming, and we do this by providing training, capacity building and strategic advice. 
  • Policy analysis and research: We review policy and gather data, evidence and knowledge that specifically focuses on the interplay between gender and ageing. By doing so, we aim to identify policy gaps, address the inadequate comprehension of intersecting inequalities in older age and shed light on the perspectives and lived experiences of older women and men. This informs advocacy efforts and policy recommendations, as well as gender mainstreaming in our own programmes. 
  • Advocacy and policy influencing: We advocate for equal recognition of the rights of older people in both gender and ageing forums, collaborating with. other organisations and stakeholders to strengthen our coordinated advocacy efforts. Our approach is intersectional, promoting the integration of an ageing lens in gender-focused organisation and a gender lens in ageing-focused organisations. Additionally, we empower older people and their organisations through training and support to advocate for their own rights and influence policy decisions. Through campaigns, events, and media engagement, we raise awareness about the rights of older people. 

Gender equality training toolkit

We have developed a gender equality training toolkit to support the promotion of gender equality across the work of the HelpAge Global Network.

The toolkit consists of a training manual and accompanying handouts for HelpAge’s gender focal points to use for training colleagues, network members and partners. The learning pack is to be used by those trained for complementary distance learning.

Access the toolkit here

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