UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Education and older women : a resource development perspective Harold, Sharon A.


Older women are a rapidly growing sector of the Canadian population and will number about 4 million by the year 2031. They are also a group which must be recognized as being at risk in later life for reasons often beyond their control or comprehension. Elderly women experience higher levels of poverty, institutionalization and criminal victimization than older men. While many of the vicissitudes of old age are unavoidable, aging is much more problematic for women due to socially constructed inequities rooted historically in cultural patterns of age and gender relations. Consequently, women's economic, social and personal resources are more vulnerable in old age because of gender limitations experienced across their entire life course. Educational opportunities have not kept pace with the challenges encountered by women as they age nor has there been adequate educational programming to help older women negotiate the many changes in society that directly affect the quality of their personal lives. Yet education is considered to be a major strategy for developing and strengthening resources in later life and to be an effective means for promoting individual and collective empowerment among older women for improving their economic and social prospects as they age. By grounding educational objectives in a resource development paradigm, efforts can be made to enhance individual resources and to promote changes in the social relations of power, privileges and opportunities upon which current access and allocation of resources are based. Educational programming aimed at resource development falls into three categories: fostering political and social identity, facilitating economic equity, and aiding in later life transitions. Based on this approach to educational needs analysis, several program and policy recommendations are developed.

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