River Cares invited Ms Aloma Fennell the President of the National Older Womens Network (NOWN) who advocates for the health, wellbeing and rights of older women and is also the voice for older women in key social and political discussions to be the guest speaker at a luncheon held in Spencer. Ms Fennell was warmly received by the women not only from Spencer, but from Gunderman and Greengrove.

Ms Fennell, aged 76, is currently undertaking a PhD on the ‘Impact of ageism on the health and wellbeing for older women’. “What we need to do going forward is think about ageing quite differently to the way that we do”.

“All women regardless of age should be treated with dignity, respect, support, and have the right to make choices to suit their situation at the time”.

Ms Fennell discussed how older women in any society are the support hosts; the pillars of society; the army of volunteers, carers, advocates and leaders in the communities; the posts that hold communities together and we receive very little recognition and it’s about time that changed.

“It isn’t often reported in the media, but many older women face significant adversity as a result of ageism, sexism and financial insecurity. As a result, there is little attention paid to older women by key decision makers, which results in social isolation and inability to secure work as a result of either age or over qualification”.

Ms Fennell also stated that under the current climate women comprise of less than a third of state and federal parliamentarians. A significant change of attitude is required, as there’s very few women in any position of authority. It’s important for there to be a greater abundance of visible female role models in order to encourage future generations of women to take the baton.

Ms Fennell suggested to her audience that day to read the book ‘The 100-Year Life – Living and Working in an Age of Longevity’ by Lynda Gratton and Andrew J Scott, who outline the challenges and intelligent choices that all of us, of any age, need to consider in order to turn greater life expectancy into a gift and not a curse.

Ms Fennell and her husband Garth Stoneberg are also the founders of the Senior Agenda, a non-profit organisation where they bring people together to discuss challenges and create resources to improve our health and wellbeing, specifically hjghlighting the role that older women play promoting social change.

The luncheon was a tremendous success and everyone enjoyed the fully catered three course Thai banquet. The attendees were encouraged to ask questions and to share their experiences they have encountered with age discrimination.

And to finish I found this quote :-
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, “WOO HOO what a ride!”

Robyn Downham | President | River Cares

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