2023-03-08 OWN Europe contribution to the International Women’s Day, 8 March 2023: The complex gender face of digital exclusion in old age

Older women have accumulated vast amounts of experience and knowledge during their life course, but they lack the tailored educational and financial support they need to benefit on an equal footing from the opportunities offered by today’s digital world to fulfil their potential and more easily meet their various responsibilities in their families and local communities. On this day to acknowledge International Women’s Day around the world we must continue to draw attention to the complex gendered nature of digital exclusion, particularly as it relates to older women. To read OWN Europe full statement to mark the IWD 2023 please click HERE

2022/10/07: Older women in Europe: A Human Rights Based Approach, edited by Isabella Paoletti, member of OWN Europe

Older Women in Europe: A human rights-based approach is about older women’s strength, freedom, tenacity, determination, resilience, independence, social and political involvement and, in particular, it is about re-imagining ageing. Older women represent the great majority of older people. The book describes instances of age and gender discrimination and examples of social inclusion and protagonism of older women in Europe. It solicits a change in perspective, focussing on the necessary societal changes to make space to older people and older women in particular. How is society going to address age and gender discrimination in social and institutional settings? How the work settings should change to effectively make space to older workers and in particular older women? How the pension system should change? How the Public Heath systems could provide effective care to older people and be sustainable? This edited collection focuses on older women’s rights rather then their needs adopting a Human Rights Based Approach. The preservation of older women’s dignity, autonomy and security is its central topic, that is, ensuring that their right are recognized. This collection offers insights valuable to a wide array of Human Rights activists, professionals, policy makers and social scientists and older women themselves.

This new book includes also a chapter by another OWN Europe member Elisabet Cedersund on Older Women and their Opportunities to Participate in Culture, Creativity and the Arts in Later Life.

2022/10/01: OWN Europe analysis of Rome 2022 MIPPA Ministerial declaration and joint civil society and scientific research declaration

Overall, the Ministerial Declaration covers the main issues of concern for all older persons, but political commitments are made to tackle gender inequality in old age in only a few specific policy areas. Although policy makers consider that progress has been achieved with regard to the implementation of the MIPAA/RIS in the past 5 years, the reality at grassroots level may look quite different in particular for some groups of older women and the oldest group. To read the full statement click here

2022/10/01: OWN Europe Statement to mark UNIDOP 2022 on “The Resilience and Contributions of Older Women”

OWN Europe members warmly welcome the UNIDOP 2022 focus on the resilience and contributions of older women, especially since this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Madrid Action Plan on Ageing. Celebrating the roles older women fulfil in their families and communities is highly relevant but should not obscure the difficulties and inequalities faced by older women, particularly the very old.

To ensure that progress is achieved soon at grassroots levels, with direct positive impact on older women’s lives, OWN Europe members strongly recommend that UN entities and member states pay much needed attention to compounded and intersectional ageism and sexism when setting the foundation of their renewed social contract, anchored in human rights, as defined in their Common Agenda

To conclude: OWN Europe members would like to remind UN member states that a UN Convention on the rights of older persons has been under discussion for more than ten years now. Such an instrument  is needed more than ever to promote older women’s rights, foster their resilience and ensure their contributions to society are recognised and duly valued.

For full statement click here

Image source: Dreamstime royalty free stock photo 18869128

22/06/16 OWN Europe Statement on The lack of visibility of older people in humanitarian contextsby Bridget Penhale, Reader Emerita in Mental Health of Older People, University of East Anglia, UK

Within the current Ukrainian context, it would appear that many older people have decided to stay in the country and may even be trapped in war zones. Older women may not wish to leave their partners or dependent relatives behind. Or they may not be able to leave due to health conditions, mobility problems or the traumatic effects of the conflict. A UN convention on the human rights of older persons must pay attention to the gender dimensions of old age/later life and also include much-needed acknowledgement of the higher risks of rights violations that older persons face in situations of natural disaster, pandemic health crises and conflict zones. To read full statement

22-06-15 Statement to the MIPAA 2022 Joint Forum of Civil Society and Scientific Research in Rome on behalf of Older Women’s Networks of Italy and Europe – delivered by Francesca Carpenedo

Whilst recognising that the clear policy directions of Development, Health and the Enabling environment within  MIPPA has  helped tackle many issues since it was first launched 20 years ago, with  some governments  developing strategies and policies to address these issues, much remains to be done to ensure the rights of older women and men are fully respected and that all benefit from progress made. This will require short and long term measures to meet the new challenges and urgent needs faced by older persons due to the on-going pandemic and geopolitical situation in Europe, as recognised in the Ministerial Final Declaration, and clear linkages with the promises to older women and men made by UN Member States with the adoption in 2015 of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals . To read full statement

2022/06/15 OWN Europe statement on Elder Abuse in the time and the aftermath of Coronavirus (COVID)-19, by Bridget Penhale, Reader Emerita in Mental Health of Older People, University of East Anglia, UK: Although awareness of elder abuse has increased during the COVID-19 crisis, little positive concrete action appears to have resulted. Levels of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation remain at high levels across Europe and throughout the world. As we mark WEAAD this year, we need to renew pledges and develop concerted actions to counter all forms of violence towards older persons, wherever and whenever it occurs. To read full statement

2021/04/21 OWN Europe response to Green Paper on Ageing: In its response to the European Green Paper on Ageing, OWN Europe stressed the need to pay due attention to the specific challenges faced by older women, in particular those living alone or in rural areas. The purpose of this European Commission open consultation was to gather views from stakeholders and the public on how to anticipate and respond to the challenges and opportunities that ageing of the EU population brings, in order to help prepare possible policy responses. OWN Europe welcomed the Green Paper’s life-cycle approach. We hope that the Commission’s proposal which will follow, will mainstream and address the gender dimension in all its proposals, including in very old age.

2021/03/08 International Women’s Day: To mark the International Women’s Day 2021, the Older Women’s Network, Europe (OWN Europe) would like to remember the huge contribution that older women make in our societies as formal and informal carers, nurses, childminders, teachers, social workers, cashiers, cleaners and other essential jobs. “Although the COVID-19 social distancing measures have forced many of us to limit our external contacts, we wish to stress the need to empower older women and to acknowledge the crucial role they play in achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”, said Joke de Ruiter, Chair of OWN Europe. Older women are amongst those most affected by the current pandemic. Yet they seldom have a say in policies that concern them most. “It is essential that their voice is heard in the ongoing debates on how to rebuild better our post-COVID-19 societies”, added Elizabeth Sclater, Secretary General of OWN Europe.  

2021/03/07 OWN-Europe new website: We are delighted to launch our new website where you will be able to find the latest news of our activities and highlights of key issues in the defence of older women’s rights. Since our new website is still under construction, we thank you for your understanding and encourage you to send your comments and suggestions to help us improve readers’ experience (  

2020/12 Catalonia research launched: The research “Violence against older women: a feminist and intersectional approach” is a study commissioned by the Gender Equality Observatory of Catalonia (Catalan Institute of Women, Government of Catalonia) and carried out by the team of the Aroa Foundation under the direction of the OWN Europe’s expert, Neus Pociello Cayuela. The main objective of this study is to understand the situation of women over 65 in Catalonia from a feminist gerontology perspective and the impact of gender based violence from a life course perspective, in order to provide information that will allow the design of future measures and the improvement of the current actions for data collection and analysis, awareness raising, prevention, detection, protection, support and recovery programmes in Catalonia to effectively address violence against older women and protect their right to a life free from gender-based violence.

2020/10/22 OWN-Europe contribution to EQUINET virtual Women and Poverty: Breaking the Cycle”. Anne-Sophie Parent participated in this panel on behalf of AGE as expert nominated by Older Women’s Network Europe. You can find a summary of the main points raised by Anne-Sophie on AGE website. These points were sent afterward as input to EQUINET Report on Women and Poverty which highlights the areas where the COVID-19 crisis has aggravated existing gender inequalities in old age.  

2020/07/14 COVID-19: OWN contributes to key international report: Anne Sophie Parent contributed the perspective of older women as panel member to the Chatham House report, The COVID 19 Gender Gap: how women’s experience and expertise will drive economic recovery. Part of their gender and inclusive growth initiative, Chatham House brought together 80 global thought leaders from international organisations, public and private sectors, the corporate world, NGOs and academia. Through 5 virtual round tables, and a three-day virtual workshop, the purpose was to identify innovative gender related business, finance and policy solutions, and incorporate these into a strategic action plan for governments and corporations in order to harness the economic power of women in driving the recovery from the pandemic.

2020/07/01 OWN welcomes a new Board member, Anne Sophie Parent, former Secretary General of AGE Platform Europe who brings a wealth of experience and energy to our work, particularly in understanding the complex developments within the European institutions and policy processes.  Over the years she has been a strong champion of OWN, Europe and enabled us to thrive within AGE Platform Europe.

2020/07 UK report on older women and the impact of COVID-19 published. In response to the COVID 19 pandemic, Elizabeth Sclater was asked by the UK Civil Society Women’s Alliance to convene an expert group on older women and draft a paper on the impact of COVID 19 on older women in the UK making recommendations for government action. This paper has been sent to UK government as well as, amongst others, the UN Independent Expert on the rights of older persons. The report has since been extended with additional material on older women in middle and low income countries.

2020/06 OWN Europe welcome two new experts: Neus Pociello Cayuella from the Aroa Foundation in Barcelona and Sylvia Beales based in the UK.  Neus brings an intergenerational perspective to our work as Aroa works with girls and women of all ages with a special focus on combatting violence and abuse. Sylvia Beales brings over 16 years’ experience in older age development work in HelpAge and now as an independent consultant. Sylvia will enable us to strengthen our global perspective, particularly in relation to low- and middle-income countries, the impact of migration and the situation of widows.

2020/06 Elizabeth Sclater presented the issues facing older women on the Feminist Europe Platform webinar: the impact of COVID 19 on women’s human rights. Providing a life-course approach and recalling the disparities of older women’s issues and situations across EU countries, she pointed out the challenges and concerns with regard to the connectedness of older people. First seen as an important way to keep social contact during containment, it also speeds up the growing digitalization of services in our societies, raising the issues of connectedness particularly in rural communities, both in terms of broadband coverage and the importance of ‘physical’/’real’ contacts.

2019/10/29 Beijing+25 – OWN Europe present the older women’s caucus statement to UNECE Beijing + 25, Geneva: OWN-Europe Board members Andrea Ferenczi, Katalin Hajos, Sylvia Beales and Elizabeth Sclater attended the meeting in preparation for the major UN global meeting Beijing +25 in 2020. They worked with representatives of other NGOs from the region to ensure older women’s voices were heard at the formal government meeting. Andrea presented the older women’s caucus’ statement to the plenary meeting of the NGO Forum and Sylvia used her negotiating skills with the organisers to ensure the positive contribution of older women was highlighted in the final report. Anne Sophie Parent as Secretary General of AGE was a speaker at a government sponsored side event during the  meeting.

2019/06/07 Recognition of Older Women’s Issues: In Spring 2019, Elizabeth Sclater, our Secretary General, was appointed Officer of the British Empire (OBE) for services to older women, in the 2019 Queen’s birthday honours. Elizabeth was delighted to accept the honour in February 2020 on behalf of all those who have supported her in the work to advance older women’s rights and gender equality in old age.

2019/04/15-18 UN Open Ended Working Group on Ageing, New York: OWN Europe is accredited to the UN Open Ended Working Group, and attended the ninth (2018) and tenth (2019) meetings in New York. We delivered an oral statement to each meeting on two substantive issues under discussion: long term care (2018) and access to life-long learning (2019), the latter developed from the OWN, Europe/AUSER international women’s meeting in Ancona, June 2018. We work closely with NGO colleagues from all regions of the world. Pictured are members of Age Platform Europe at the AARP offices in New York preparing for the 10th session.

2018/6/20 OWN, Europe co organised the Conference: Knowledge, Rights and Participation: Women’s approach to Active Ageing in Italy and Europe together with the Equal Opportunities Committee of Auser, the Italian Association for Active Ageing. It took place in Ancona.

Speakers included the members of Auser at national and regional level as well as Heidrun Mollenkopf, Vice President, AGE Platform Europe. OWN, Europe members Joke de Ruiter – Zwanikken, Elizabeth Sclater and Andrea Ferenczi. The focus of the conference was:
– Older people’s advocacy organisations, current women’s perspectives
– Lifelong learning and rights, participation and wellbeing across the
ageing process
– Women’s approaches to intergenerational and intercultural society

The Conference ended with recommendations to the UN Open-ended Working Group on Ageing for the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons. Endorsed by Auser and OWN, Europe they were delivered as an oral statement at their 9th session New York, July 2018.

2018/6/17-18 Older Women Network Europe biannual meeting, Perugia, Italy. Members of OWN, Europe welcomed two new Board members at their meeting in Perugia. Renee Laiviera presented a report on the current situation of older women in Malta and Elisabet Cedersund spoke about her research with staff in Care homes in Sweden. Time was also taken to prepare for the meeting in Ancona.