Worker, housewife, wife, mother… The roles that women undertake nowadays are numerous. And on top of these another, associated with the unstoppable ageing population, has now been added: carer.
Ana Laura Arbesú
Experts consider the subject highly significant, due to its implications on both the health and economic status of those who, par excellence, undertake such a task.
There are disparate studies that address the problem within the framework of social science, psychology and sociology.
Academic and Mexican Anthropologist Marcela Lagarde says that women are the ones who take on the vital care of others: men, family members, children, relatives, community members, pupils, patients, those who are ill or have special needs, their environment etc.
They safeguard their development, progress, wellbeing, life and death.
The Sustainable Development Agenda, the United Nations plan of action that will govern programmes of global progress for 2030, comprises two specific goals that seek to mitigate issues such as gender violence.
One such goal is focused on health and wellbeing, aimed at guaranteeing both of these parameters for everyone of any age.
Another objective explicitly linked to this issue addresses gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
In the light of such circumstances and to mark the occasion of International Women’s Day, Prensa Latina talked with Cuban OMS/OPS representative Cristian Morales.
“Reality shows us that inequality and imbalance concerning ‘natural helpers’ is highly preventable. It is women that take on the vast amount of responsibility when caring for parents and children”, he says.
He adds, “Concerning women undertaking such work, this leads to immediate implications for them” he underlines. “Not only are their finances slowed, but their health is also jeopardised”.
In fact, he highlights that World Health Day on 7 April will be focused on depression because “much of what triggers this comes from women’s involvement in caring for the ill at home”.
He says that “we are living in an ageing society. Having to take care of parents, grandparents and those who have lost their autonomy, or even those suffering from more serious diseases such as alzheimers or dementia, means we become aware of the direct impact on the health of such carers.”
Statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that in 2050 the number of elderly people needing help to carry out day-to-day activities will have quadrupled.
Moreover, by mid-century, the global population aged 60 years or more will have increased from 900 million to 2 billion, a 12% to 22% hike.
The rate of Alzheimers, a degenerative disease, will have tripled by the same date.
Morales believes that the role of health systems is crucial in addressing the needs of the ageing population.
Authorities must analyse how to respond to, invest resources and train professionals to alleviate this responsibility, which, due to cultural and historic factors, falls upon women. Public policies must be implemented so that it is not only women who have to look after their nearest and dearest.
“In analysing the economic aspect, the official described the situation as sensitive. Our ability to directly generate wealth and employment is stilted when we have to take a relative to the doctors or hospital”, he points out.
He adds “In terms of work, I do not have an adequate explanation; this diminishes prospects and ability to move up the ranks”.
At the end of last year, with the support of UN Women, UNDP and UNICEF, the national poll on gender equality came to fruition, addressing the issue in one of its chapters.
Currently in its analysis stage, the first results will be published in November. He explains “it will tell us what the situation is in terms of the amount of time that women dedicate to looking after family in Cuba.”
Photos: Pixabay – (Translated by Abaigh Wheatley)