Thursday, June 9, 2016

Elderly women living alone: an update of their living conditions


 To avoid increases in gender disparities and in poverty risks, it is necessary to assess the potential gender impact of changes in pension and welfare systems.

 Addressing the specific needs of women living alone asks for the individualisation of social rights, irrespective of household and marital relations both in pension and assistance policies and developing integrated policy packages, dealing with all the different aspects of lone women’s living conditions. The involvement of local communities and local actors (usually municipalities, charities and NGOs) in policy design and implementation and guaranteeing the continuity of interventions are also important to sustain the creation of extended support services and networks at the local level.

 As for pension systems, it is suggested to strengthen universal, residence-based or flat rate minimum pensions indexed to wages and pension credits for unemployment and training periods; provide public subsidies to support access to occupational and individual supplementary pensions by women and other groups usually less involved in these schemes; provide adequate pension credits for care periods; adopt unisex life tariffs in both public and private funded pension schemes; provide specific pension credits for atypical and part-time employment and support flexible retirement provisions; adopt individual rather than family related pension entitlements.

 Policies to reduce gender gaps in the labour market and active ageing policies are also needed to guarantee gender equality in old-age living conditions through the adoption of a gender mainstreaming approach to labour market and active ageing, with a focus on measures supporting the reconciliation of market and family work and revising cultural models on gender roles. Multi-sector and intergenerational active ageing strategies should be strengthened to reduce the risk of isolation and improve the conditions of women (and men) living alone also addressing empowerment initiatives to promote active engagement.

 European Institutions could play an important role supporting a stronger integration of a gender equality perspective in pension and welfare policies and active ageing strategies both at the EU and national level. 

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