The WASPI Campaign are disappointed that the Women and Equalities Committee produced a report on how women are specifically affected by COVID19 with no mention of older women. The report features an entire chapter on Young People, but no such chapter on Older Workers. Is there an upper age limit to equality?
There is no acknowledgement of the significant contribution made by older women including the level of unofficial care provided to both grandchildren and elderly relatives, and volunteering to support communities, and the considerable flexibility that has been required in order for them to support their own families and communities in these vital services.
This is more dispiriting in light of the recent shocking confirmation by the Office of National Statistics of an 11% increase in unemployment in women over 65, and the fact many women, born in the 1950s are dependent on the gig economy, temporary and zero hours contracts. Additional factors like shielding, higher risk of infection and caring responsibilities puts them in a specific category all of their own.
On the one hand we’re high risk and on the other we are required to work until we are 66 when the pandemic has removed most of our employment opportunities. As a campaign we have never opposed equalisation of the State Pension age, but measures to support the women affected were also necessary to alleviate the poverty caused by such a poor implementation of Government policy. There are some in place now, but they were needed 25 years ago.
It is a great pity that older women’s lives remain untouched by the work of the Women & Equalities committee.