By 2050, there will be more women than men in India's population of those over 60 years of age, according to a report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). India's aging will, however, be in keeping with the global trend — more women in the club than men.
"By 2050, the olderly women (60+ category) in the country will exceed older men by 18.4 million," said the report titled 'Ageing in the Twenty first Century: A Celebration and a Challenge' released globally on October 1. The day is celebrated as international day of older persons.
"The olderly women are not a liability but an asset," said Frederika Meijer, a representative of the UNFPA. According to report, "Globally, for for every 100 women aged 60 or over worldwide, there are just 84 men. For every 100 women aged 80 or over, there are only 61 men."
"The feminisation of agening population is real and true," said Matthew Cherian, CEO HelpAge India, an NGO which works on the older population of the country. He also said that in India, older people face lots of discrimination, neglect at home by family members and devoid of several social security schemes.
A different report, from HelpAge India, challenges the popularly-held belief that the abuse of the elderly happens mostly at the hands of the daughters-in-law. The report holds that in 56 percent of the cases of domestic abuse of elderly the primary abuser is the son followed by the daughter-in-law (in 23 percent). The report is to be presented to the president of India on October 1.
The 20-city survey also said that every third senior citizen is abused in the country. "31 percent of older persons reported abuse. More than half of those abused were facing it for more than 4 years and all these were facing multiple forms of abuse," said the report titled 'Elder Abuse in India'. The survey was based on responses from 5,600 senior citizens picked randomly.
The study found that there was an exponential increase in mistreatment of elders in Delhi. In 2011, it was just 12 percent while 2012 survey reveals that 29.82 percent of repsondents faced abuse. It also found that abuse was highest in Bhopal (71.12 percent) while Jaipur reported a miniscule 1.67 percent.
Cherian was critical of the government's programme for elderly persons. He said, "The National Programme for healthcare of elderly was launched for 100 cities with a fund of Rs. 400 crores with much funfare in October 2011. It's almost a year since, but the programme has not even started."
The report also has some recommendations for policies to support the ederly population. It pushes for a nationwide programmes in schools for sensitising children towards the ageing and aged populations. It demands a robust social security system for the elders that gives them opportunities for income generation.