As we mark International Women’s Day this year it is timely to consider the place that older women hold in our society. Older women, who probably spent time in their lives raising children, caring for family members, working in and working outside the home, volunteering and creating a sense of community. Things we all value. Perhaps things we also all take for granted.
It is such a pity that all that work, all that invisible work, all that unpaid work catches up with some women when they are older. Especially those older women who are or have become single for one reason or another and didn’t have the good fortune to be able to purchase a house during their working lives. We know it catches up with some older women because they are living in poverty and some are experiencing homelessness as a result of that poverty.
Those women don’t lack living skills or financial skills or anything else that the dominant discourse around people who experience homelessness would have us believe. They simply lack an affordable, permanent, safe home. The real culprit here is the failure of housing policy. The failure of our civil society to ensure that there is adequate housing for all. The failure of us as a community to recognise the contributions made to our community by a great many women. How deeply tragic that is. It’s like we are saying “Thanks for raising a generation of people, thanks for all your help, you’re on your own now. We’re busy”.
Australia, we have to do better for everyone who experiences homelessness. Housing is the answer.