AGE has submitted a response to the European Commission’s consultation on Gender Equality in the EU, aimed to prepare the new EU engagement on gender equality for the period 2020-2024. In our response, we call for a full strategy on gender equality, as the 2000-2014 Strategy was only followed up by a strategic engagement of the European Commission in 2015-2019. Furthermore, we highlight the specific challenges of older women and how they could be addressed by EU action, namely in the field of economic independence, health and violence against older women.
Economic independence: an effect of accumulated disadvantages throughout the lifetime, but EU action possible
AGE highlights the gender gap in pensions, standing at 37% and very likely to increase in the future. The high gender gaps regarding the rates of poverty and social exclusion of older women are an important element that needs to be highlighted as well.
Many of the economic disadvantages in old age are a result of discrimination experienced throughout the lifetime: the gender care and pay gaps, gender segregation in occupations etc. The EU can take action to prevent this accumulating effect, such as paying attention to care credits and the adequacy of minimum pensions when recommending reforms in the European Semester. AGE also calls for a recommendation on social protection and services for informal carers.
AGE’s recommendations follow up on the comments provided for the consultation on equal pay, to which AGE participated in April.
Unequal health outcomes: a case for stepping up prevention
While life expectancy is higher for women than for men, the healthy life years indicator suggests that they have the same lifespan spent in good health. Therefore, underperformance of health systems and out-of-pocket payment for health and care have a stronger impact on women, besides the implications for the quality of life of older women. This is why a gender equality strategy should fully embrace the health and care dimensions, such as the protection of women’s health and safety at the workplace, the stepping up of health prevention in all policies and health literacy.
Violence against older women: more research needed
While research from some EU member states suggests that violence against older women exists and is shockingly widespread, this phenomenon is currently unknown and not properly assessed. AGE calls for more research into the prevalence, causes and measures to prevent violence against older women, both in long-term care settings and outside of long-term care.
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