Ambassador's case for older women

Burnet Institute

17 May, 2016

IMAGE: Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja AM with Burnet researcher Kelly Durrant at WD2016

Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja AM, has thrown her support behind Burnet Institute’s contribution to the world’s largest conference on the health and rights of women and girls, Women Deliver 2016 (WD2016), underway in Copenhagen.

In partnership with The Fred Hollows Foundation and HelpAge International, Burnet is hosting a panel discussion focusing on what can be achieved by and for older women in the community.

Ms Stott Despoja, who’s attending WD2016 in an official capacity, believes it’s vital to promote the visibility of older women and their role in delivering women’s and children’s health.

“Older women make a vital contribution to reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health,” Ms Stott Despoja, who’s also a Burnet Institute Patron, said.

”Grandmothers support mothers during pregnancy, care for newborns, maintain cultural traditions surrounding pregnancy and childbirth, and advise and educate younger women on all aspects of family wellbeing.

“Older women are also often caregivers of children or sick relatives, particularly in families affected by migration, displacement or illness.

“Yet many development programs fail to explicitly involve older women and health systems are often unresponsive to the needs of older women.”

Ms Stott Despoja notes that while both older men and women may face age discrimination, the cumulative effects of gender discrimination magnify women’s vulnerability in older age.

She refers to Australia’s Health for Development Strategy 2015-2020 as a blueprint for the delivery of services to address the financial, social and cultural barriers for women.

“A priority is to empower communities to demand better health services to address women’s lack of decision-making power at household and community levels,” Ms Stott Despoja said.

To read Ambassador Stott Despoja’s statement in full, click here.

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Burnet Institute

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