Today celebrates the 110th International Women’s Day. Women from across the globe will stand united to call for action for accelerating women’s equality.  The day marks the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. But it is also a day to challenge situations where women’s rights, health and safety are compromised.

Each year the international day has a different theme. Through collective action, this year women are choosing to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. On March 8th, 2021, the Centre for Age, Gender and Social Justice are challenging the dominant narratives of domestic abuse, highlighting that older women are victims too.

Domestic abuse is a significant human rights violation and a global public health concern that predominately affects women, with 1 in 3 women reported to have experienced domestic and sexual violence in their lifetime (World Health Organisation, 2017). With growing concerns during the Covid-19 pandemic of increasing rates of violence and homicides.

Cutting across all boundaries, domestic abuse affects all women regardless of their age, sexuality, ethnicity, class or disability. However, the ‘public story’ of domestic abuse remains to be a ‘white, middle-class heterosexual female with young children’ (Wydall and Zerk, 2017).

Our research at the Centre has evidenced that older women do not get equal access to justice and specialist domestic abuse support on account of their age. A problem that is further compounded by added complexity of disability, dementia, and same-sex relationships. This is a human rights violation and demonstrates the systemic ageism that pervades our society.

In response to this injustice, Dewis Choice was established in 2015 to bring about equality of access to service provision and justice. Offering research, training and service provision, we are the first initiative globally to co-produce new justice options with older people. The service element has supported over 170 older victims (regardless of their gender or sexuality) and their families to increase their safety and improve their wellbeing. We have provided long term intensive support for older people, to help improve their recovery from the abuse. To find out more about our key achievements see here.

Working with our volunteers we started a petition that was discussed at Senedd. The petition sought to raise awareness among the public, third sector and statutory organisations of the number of older people who experience domestic abuse as often there is the misconception that domestic abuse stops at the age of 60. The petition also challenged the lack of imagery used in media and marketing to represent older victims of domestic abuse. As a result, we understand that the Welsh Government have placed pressure on services to be more inclusive in their imagery, particularly since older people represent a diverse and heterogeneous group that spans three generations.

Below are of our Team at the Centre who #ChooseToChallenge and will call out inequality, bias, question stereotypes and help forge an inclusive world. #IWD2021

To find out more about the Initiative see our website https://dewischoice.org.uk/ and follow us on Twitter for the latest updates @choiceolderppl