Skip to content
Tiếng Việt
中文 (Taiwan)

Our national team of advocates is available Monday to Friday 8am–8pm and Saturday 10am-4pm 

Home News and media centre News What inclusion means to older women

What inclusion means to older women

In the lead-up to International Women’s Day 2024, four members of OPAN’s National Older Person’s Reference Group share their views on this year’s theme: ‘Inspiring Inclusion’. 

Danijela Hlis 

In the country of my birth, Slovenia, International Women’s Day was always a big celebration. 1911 marked the year of the first gathering, a kind of rebel one, due to low pay, lack of voting rights. Gender gaps may have changed, but equality in pay is still on our priority list, so is abolishing domestic violence, which has increased around the world.   

Since I was 17 I have made myself reflect on great women of the world, and I salute them and thank them. Marie Curie, Mother Theresa, Cleopatra, Catherine the Great. From our carers to nurses, from cleaners to teachers, from mothers to presidents. I also celebrate my sisters and my friends and women living with dementia in need of our advocacy. I pray for more women political leaders, because then, we would have less wars.  Women have more in-built biological markers for peace making, nurturing, forgiving. I do believe that better gender equality is the primary building block to a wholesome democracy and peace. 

Women’s day should be celebrated by ALL. And our work for equality must never stop until we achieve it. Everyone must have a chance to be free of oppression and restrictions and discrimination. A fair go for all. Happy International Women’s Day. 

Judith Covell  

There seems to be a lot of talk recently about the isolation and loneliness of older people. Solutions always seem to assume that all we need is someone to chat to (poor old things), but what if it is simply the outcome of something broader?  As an older woman it seems that I am constantly negotiating my own inclusion in the public space.  

Yes, I can meet friends at a coffee shop, but where are the meeting rooms at low cost where we can meet to discuss things that matter to us? Where are the seats in the public space where we can sit and rest awhile?  Where is the assistance to ensure our safety when using public transport? Why do I have to spell out to the management of our local shopping centre why it is inappropriate for a young “young casual leasee” to badger older women about their dry skin and their appearance. Public space for many women is not inclusive. It is a dangerous space. Fix it and we won’t be so isolated or lonely! 

Rosemary Seam

Last year at my residential aged care home International Women’s Day was completely ignored. The men had their regular bus outing and the women had nothing. This struck me and says something about the status of women. Equality of women and equal pay is still a big issue, particularly with large companies who should be doing better.  

I remember when I got equal pay as a public servant and that was quite a thing. When I was young we didn’t think much about equality of women, we just accepted things as they were, that was the status quo. The status of women has improved immeasurably in my life time, but we still have a long way to go.  

We still need more women politicians, but is it any wonder the way politicians go on, that women aren’t keen to join the ranks? I think being a woman in politics is an uphill battle. They never talk about men in positions of power as being the ‘father of three’, but women always have this mentioned. That’s their place in society and so they are a ‘mother of so many children’. In the case of Julia Gillard, she was childless, that was a ‘scandal’.  

My mother really loved her profession, she was a registered nurse. Nursing was one profession women could have, nursing and teaching, and this was viewed as a noble profession. But that was one of the few professions open to women in those days. I was lucky that she was a good example for me – most women worked in the home then. It was always rather looked down upon if a women had a profession, – it was referred to, in a rather derogatory manner, as ‘“she went out to work”.

They won’t hear the end of me if there isn’t something for International Women’s Day this year at my aged care home.

Robyn Abrahams 

It is entirely possible to be older, disabled and sick with a brain in your head and be worth listening to. Women can still contribute enormously. It is important to celebrate the beauty of being old and living with disability, women can and do make a difference!