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The position of older women in Serbia – a lecture for students of the Faculty of Political Sciences


As part of the course Social Work with Older Persons at the Faculty of Political Sciences, the guest lecturer on Thursday, 21 April 2022, was Natasa Todorović, expert associate of the Red Cross of Serbia, who spoke about the position of older women.

Women in Serbia live longer than men, but they also live with health problems. Due to gender inequalities in different stages of life, women also have more unfavorable material living conditions in older age, especially if they live on their own. There are also gender differences in pensions and they reflect gender inequalities from the labour market and are a consequence of the length of service and the amount of income, which were also in favour of men.

Gender differences in poverty are also pronounced. In the population under the age of 65, women have a slightly lower risk of poverty than men, while in the older population the opposite is true – the risks of poverty are higher among women than among men.

Gender differences in Serbia are also expressed in terms of material deprivation. In this area, the gender gap is also manifested differently in the younger and older population. Among the population under the age of 64, severe material deprivation is slightly more prevalent in the male than female population, while among older persons there is a higher prevalence of severe material deprivation among women than among men. The oldest women are also the most exposed to severe forms of material deprivation.

When looking at individual elements of material deprivation, it is even clearer that household resources are not evenly distributed and that practices of meeting needs are highly gendered. Women more often than men report deprivation of needs of various kinds. They are more often unable to spend small amounts of money on their own without consulting others, to afford to go to sports or cultural events, to gather for a drink or meal with friends or family, to change worn-out clothes and more often than not to have two pairs of shoes.

Men aged 65+ have 8.3 hours of free time during the day, and women 7.4 hours. Women have less free time because they are mostly informal caregivers or babysitting grandchildren. Unlike older men, women spend very little time per day playing sports, exercising or walking. Men are more dedicated to these recreational activities, which are important for physical fitness and general physical health and they spend an average of 40 minutes during the day for these activities, compared to only 15 minutes spent by women.

It is necessary to invest in healthy aging throughout the life cycle and to fight against discrimination against older women in order to ensure dignified aging.