Empowering older women.

Women are more likely to serve as caregivers throughout their lives and into old age, making them more susceptible to poverty in later life. They’re also more vulnerable to violence, abuse, and neglect in later life due to gender-based discrimination. To prevent and overcome this, we foster leadership among older women. 

Empowerment against gender-based violence

Combatting witchcraft accusations in Tanzania

In Tanzania and other countries, witchcraft beliefs have led to an alarming number of witchcraft accusations. Anyone can make them, and they can be based on almost anything — like “bewitching” to cause illnesses. Allegations also come from family members who want control of a widow’s property. 

The accused are usually vulnerable older women, and after being labeled as witches they are often brutally attacked or murdered. It’s a complex issue that involves deep-rooted cultural beliefs, the low status of women, poverty, and other factors.

Because of our interventions, there has been a 99% reduction in killings in regions where HelpAge and our partners have intervened. 

Breaking the silence on violence in Moldova

One in three older people in Moldova has experienced violence, and two-thirds of them are women. HelpAge works to ensure that the country’s older women at risk of violence can access support services.

We advocate for the government to invest in prevention and response mechanisms that operate effectively and strengthen the knowledge, skills, and capacity of civil society organizations on gender and age discrimination. We also raise women’s awareness about their rights and provide support to older domestic violence victims. And, we coordinate campaigning against violence and abuse at local, national, and international levels. 

Older female African refugee with red and yellow headscarf and white turtleneck shirt
© Ben Small, HelpAge International

"If I stayed they would kill me."
–Bernice, Tanzania

Fleeing violence and political turmoil in Burundi, Bernice settled into Tanzania’s Mtendeli refugee camp. Soon after arriving she was accused of being a witch by the woman she was sharing a tent with — who wanted to coerce her into leaving so her boyfriend could move in. She told us: “I refused so they started spreading rumors that I am a witch, and that they don’t want me in the village and that if I stayed they would kill me. They came into my tent and beat me at about midnight.”

HelpAge’s team in the camps helped Bernice move to a different zone in the camp away from her accusers, and worked with the local communities to try to dispel myths about witchcraft.

From mentoring younger girls about their reproductive rights in Uganda to fighting against harmful practices such as witchcraft accusations in Kenya, watch how older women are working with HelpAge to make a difference in their communities.

Groundbreaking study on gender-based violence in old age

HelpAge partnered with the American Association for the Advancement of Science to conduct a survey of older persons in long-term displacement situations in five sites across the globe.

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