Over 100 years ago women were fighting for equality. Conferences were held on the role of women and the opportunities available to us. These events were organised by men, the speakers were men and most of the audience were males, with a few token women. Such events were of course ridiculed by women. From that low base is it any wonder that today equality is still a long way off, with the number of women in parliament and on boards well below half, women’s pay less than men’s and Me Too campaigns receiving a huge amount of support and sympathy.

History is repeating itself. We older people would like our current talents and contributions to society recognised and more opportunities available to use them. Currently conferences around the world, both international conferences and those within countries, are being organised for 2020. They are supposed to be about ageing but for most older people they are physically and financially out of reach, yet this is the group containing the experts in the field. These conferences are being organised by younger people, the speakers are younger people and most of the audience will be younger people. Sound like a familiar pattern? The sad part is that when these organisers themselves are classed as ageing they will still be unable to attend,  perhaps for the same reason as men who have resisted sharing money, power and influence for all these years. Just as our world misses out on so many skills women have to offer, so also are they missing out on the skills and  knowledge of older people, the real experts on ageing.

How should we solve this problem? The major problems I suspect are money and mobility although we would have to check with older people themselves to make sure this is the complete list. It doesn’t seem to occur to conference organisers that enabling older people to attend would make these events more interesting , more relevant and would mean that they achieved more. It seems ridiculous that young people, students, are subsidised heavily both through the conferences and their places of study to enable them to attend, but older people usually have to fund themselves. Travel is less easy to address but webinars, if properly organised, can be an acceptable substitute. These enable all participants to contribute from their different perspectives.

About 20 years ago I came across some research done into one aspect of ageing in the UK. The charity which funded it said it was on condition that the researchers involved older people in the research group. The researchers said afterwards that by doing so their research had been much more accurate and useful. Do all research projects today include older people in their research teams? I don’t think so. Why not? Is it because researchers want to maintain absolute power, just as men did all those years ago? If not, why aren’t older people included more in this area in which they are the real experts?

 

The re-opening of my blog is more difficult because of advertisements I have not authorised. I have been using computers for over 50 years and am not impressed with some of the changes which occur! It will take time but I hope to sort the problem out.