Realizing decent work for older women workers

Realizing decent work for older women workers

Paper aims to identify issues and contribute to the debate by governments, employers and trade unions, on legislative and policy measures necessary to address economic and social concerns raised by an ageing population. Concentrating on work from the the perspective of the older woman, emphasis is placed on promoting decent work for older women workers through a rights-based approach.

The primary response to an ageing population by policy-makers has been to focus on reforming social security and health care systems to minimize projected public expenditure. Such policies have often been undertaken with little prior social or gender analysis, leading to an unnecessarily high social cost for older women.

The paper

  • provides an understanding of the demographic transition leading to the feminization of later life, within the context of what is meant by an “older woman” worker and what constitutes “decent work” within a rights-based framework.
  • undertakes a gender and age analysis of significant policy changes which have taken place since the late 1980s, to “prepare for” an ageing population
  • proposes a rights-based framework within which the direction of future policy reform may most effectively take place, prior to exploring the critical role of the social partners in implementing this reform, so as to provide older women workers with the equal right to access resources and opportunities within the world of work

Policy framework suggestions include:

  • satisfying basic needs and creating basic rights - a rights-based approach reflects an enormous shift in policy direction from the passive to the active. Such an approach creates entitlements for rights-holders
  • formal recognition by governments that age discrimination denies or limits a significant (and growing) proportion of society their basic rights
  • seriously addressing age discrimination in the world of work, a universally binding instrument recognizing that age discrimination is as unacceptable as other specified grounds, such as sex, religion and race, must be adopted
  • facilitating the universal design and implementation of legislative measures at the national level
  • promoting lifelong learning to improve working prospects
  • supporting a flexible working environment to enable balancing work and personal life for both men and women, and
  • educating society about the capabilities of older women

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