Actions of Les Petits Frères des Pauvres – International Women’s Day

In France, as well as worldwide, March 8th was an opportunity to celebrate women in all their diversity and to highlight the ongoing struggles they face to achieve full equality in all areas of life.

International Women’s Day commemorates the great figures of feminism and brings to the forefront the tragic plight of women in certain regions of the world. However, it’s important not to overlook the quieter, everyday discriminations and precarity experienced by other women, who don’t make headlines: elderly women, who represent nearly 15% of the population in France and face a cumulative set of inequalities compared to men of the same age.

These women, upon reaching retirement, often experience the financial consequences of incomplete careers, receiving pensions on average 40% lower than men. They continue to endure psychological or physical violence within relationships, families, or institutions, even as crime statistics often overlook those aged over 75.

Many of these women, out of modesty or because they aren’t given the opportunity, struggle to articulate their distress.

Les Petits Frances des Pauvres aimed to give them a voice by publishing, on March 8th, a collection of testimonies from a questionnaire answered by 123 beneficiaries, both men and women, who freely expressed their concerns, desires for change, and optimism.

Monique, 77, talks about her daily struggles with precariousness: “Once the rent is paid, there’s not much left. I’m not ashamed to say it, I only have one meal a day”; Maïté, 83, discusses women’s professional lives: “Same studies but not the same careers and not the same salaries”.

Catherine, 83, reminds us that violence is a reality for many women: “I experienced violence with both of my husbands”.

Other beneficiaries speak of the discriminations they face and their sense of not fitting into a world that seems to have no place for the elderly: “Elderly women are not represented because people aren’t interested in them” (Annette, 93), “When you’re old, you’re supposed to disappear” (Jeanne, 93), “People say I’m an old woman, that I’m useless today and that I’m a burden to society. But in my mind, I’m not old, and every day is precious to live” (Yvonne, 110).

Georges, 76, advocates for a fundamental right, “the right for elderly women (as for men) to create would be the right to happiness until the last day”.

Supporting this demand, the collection includes a series of recommendations for policymakers to support the development of a comprehensive policy for the elderly, covering all aspects of life and contributing to the fight against stereotypes that reinforce the isolation of the elderly.

The collection of beneficiary testimonies can be found here:

8 mars : Une centaine de vieux s’expriment sur les droits des femmes (petitsfreresdespauvres.fr)

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