Feminization of Old Age in India: Experiences of Subalternity in Urban Spaces

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 09:11
Location: Elise Richter Saal (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Smita VERMA, Isabella Thoburn College, India
The demographic feature of 21st century has been the rise of the aged population, making them socially visible. However the concern is that an ageing world is also a feminized world. But this transition does not hold a very vivid future as the elderly women are the most vulnerable section of the population. They make up for the majority of the poor due to scarce access to education, property and employment opportunities. Widowhood often leaves them impoverished and victims of abuse.

Until recently ageing women have not been considered a subject requiring serious attention in India. Most of the studies on old age have adopted a gender neutral approach to the problems of ageing. It is an paradox that the feminist movement has marginally  addressed this issue even though gender along with social, economic and political factors has a profound impact on how people age, thus making ageing a gendered experience. The question remains why ageing has not been taken up as a feminist issue in India. Why this marginalization of the elderly women? The aim of this paper is to bring forth the issue to the centre and give an insight into the reasons for their vulnerability.

The paper deliberates on the various perspectives of subalternity and takes a look into feminist framework for understanding ageing women’s issue. Bringing the narratives and experiences of the elderly women from urban areas will help in drawing strategy to empower younger women within life cycle dynamics so that they experience a more socially dynamic and healthy ageing.