WASHINGTON, May 2, 2023 — The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s new Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy includes important references to the specific risks and experiences of older women, said HelpAge USA on the launch of the agency’s 2023 strategy.
Specifically, older women are mentioned as being at greater risk of gender-based violence, lack of financial independence, and structural inequalities in food systems. They are also more susceptible to harm and hardships during conflicts and crises, including climate change.
USAID’s policy also highlights how the cumulative impacts of lifelong gender disparities lead to differences in poverty rates, health outcomes, access to needed services and care, and abuse and violence. These findings are supported by HelpAge’s 2023 report on gendered ageism, which you can read here.
“Older women rarely receive attention for the particular risks they can face or the contributions they continue to make to their communities around the world,” said Cindy Cox-Roman, President and CEO of HelpAge USA. “HelpAge USA applauds USAID for ensuring older women are visible in its efforts to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.”
Gender-Based Violence and Financial Independence
According to the revised policy, gender-based violence against older adults is widespread but receives comparatively less research and public advocacy focus compared to gender-based violence perpetrated against youth and younger adults. In addition, older women are more likely than their male counterparts to live in poverty, which increases their risk of violence and limits their abilities to leave an abusive partner or household.
This corresponds directly with research done by HelpAge USA and the University of Southern California, which highlighted a critical gap and need for financial education for women at older ages. (Stay tuned for more information!)
The strategy also outlines how disasters and crises amplify existing gender inequalities and exacerbate other vulnerabilities experienced by older people. HelpAge’s research has long shown this reality, and HelpAge USA advocates for stronger inclusion of older people in humanitarian action and unimpeded access to emergency assistance for older people who need it most.
HelpAge USA advances the rights, well-being, and inclusion of older people around the world. As part of the HelpAge Global Network, HelpAge USA works to ensure that the contributions of all older people are recognized, and they have the right to a healthy, safe, and secure life. Visit us at helpageusa.org.