The proportion of people over 60 has grown from 8 per cent in 1950 to 11 per cent today, and is projected to grow to 22 per cent in 2050, reaching 2 billion strong. This means that one out of five persons on the planet will be 60 years or older in roughly forty years. Photo:ILO/Maillard J.
Living longer entails the need to have longer access to good and affordable health care and to adequate income. Increasingly in many parts of the world, older people - even those in poor health - may have no other choice but to work continuously until very old age. They may not have rights to affordable retirement, nor access to any retirement benefits in order to cover their costs of living. Photo:ILO/NC
Discrimination against older persons, in particular older women, needs to be addressed, as during their life, women accumulate disadvantages that pile up at older ages. Older women may experience double discrimination in the form of sexist and ageist stereotypes. They may also be discriminated against not only account of their biological age, but their appearance. As these women workers grow older it appears that they are more likely to be made redundant, and less likely to find alternative employment than other groups within the labour market. Photo:ILO/Deloche P.
Because women live longer than men, they form the majority of older persons (55 percent). Currently, women outnumber men by about 70 million among those aged 60 years or over. In the last 50 years, global life expectancy of women has increased from 48 to 67 years, as compared to 45 to 63 years for men. Photo:ILO/Maillard J.
A large part of the economic contribution of women is through their care-giving roles, household chores and informal economy activity. Social security schemes providing minimum benefit guarantees and compensating loss of benefit entitlements are particularly relevant to women workers whose entitlements can otherwise be very low due to low pay and/or holding part-time jobs, often interrupted by family responsibilities and unemployment. For those women who had never been remunerated for work, these guarantees could be life-lines. Photo:ILO/Deloche P.
Labour force participation rates for older women are generally lower than for older men. This does not mean that older women are not working. Older women workers who work for only a few hours or undertake irregular or seasonal employment, women who are in unpaid employment, or women who work near or in their home are often not captured in the labour market indicators. Since women, more so than men, are found in these situations, it is to be expected that the number of women in employment tends to be underestimated to a larger extent than the number of men. Photo:ILO/Deloche P.
Women are vulnerable owing to their high numbers in unpaid, low-paid, part-time, frequently interrupted, informal economy work. As a result they are less often entitled to any contributory pension benefits in their own right. Even if they are, their pensions are often significantly lower than those of men due to lower earnings and shorter contribution periods. Photo:ILO/Deloche P.
In developing countries older people may have to work despite poor health in order to survive without pensions. There are, however, few decent employment opportunities available to them. At the same time in developed countries, many older people are in good physical and mental health and are perfectly capable and willing to offer their experiences and capacities to employers even though they have the right to retirement. Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Much of the world's population - 80 per cent - is still without access to comprehensive social security protection. This lack of protection is becoming glaringly obvious as populations age Basic, non-contributory social security pensions help to reduce gender inequalities in income and quality of life between older women and men. This is critically important given the different constraints faced by women in terms of labour force participation at different stages of the life course. Since older women are at the lowest economic rungs, they stand to benefit most from these schemes. Photo:ILO/Deloche P.
The ILO's Older Workers Recommendation, 1980 (R162) states that "Employment problems of older workers should be dealt with in the context of an over-all and well balanced strategy for full employment and, at the level of the undertaking, of an over-all and well balanced social policy, due attention being given to all population groups, thereby ensuring that employment problems are not shifted from one group to another". Photo:ILO/Crozet M.
Career guidance and counseling and job search assistance for older workers play key roles to promote employability of the older age groups. Training and continuing education are crucial in helping older workers to adapt to changing demands and opportunities. Lifelong learning is a long-term, preventative strategy that is far broader than just providing "second-chance" education for those adults who were not provided with initial quality education and training in their childhood and youth. Photo:ILO/Deloche P.
A fundamental objective is to build societies fit for people of all ages, as proclaimed by the Madrid World Assembly on Ageing (2002). This requires rethinking the conventional course of working life. It entails introducing more flexible and tailored working patterns, yet at the same time ensuring that people have both the right to continue working if they so wish and the right to retire in an affordable manner if they do not wish to continue an economically active life. There needs to be a shift from competition to solidarity among working age groups and to remove the employment barriers facing older people. Photo:ILO/Maillard J.