Commission To Help Older Women

17 February 2015, 08:25 | Updated: 17 February 2015, 08:27

Scottish Labour is to set up a new commission aimed at helping older women, with the party warning the group must not become a "forgotten generation''.

The Scottish Commission on Older Women, which will operate at arm's length from the Labour Party, is being established to examine the issues females aged over 50 face at work.

It will also consider the impact that caring for elderly relatives can have on the group.

The commission will be chaired by Morag Alexander, a former board member of the Equality and Human Rights Commission who was also the first Scotland director for the Equal Opportunities Commission, together with trade unionist Agnes Tolmie, chair of the Scottish Women's Convention.

More than 13,000 women aged between 50 and 64 in Scotland are out of work, according to Labour, a total which has increased by 30% since 2010.

But at the same time the number of men aged 50 to 64 who are unemployed has fallen by almost a quarter (23%).

Shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran said: "This generation of older women are living and working longer than their mothers ever did.

"They have taken advantage of the progress that has been made for women over the past 50 years - from more equal pay between men and women to equal participation in the labour market.

"But as they reach this stage of their lives, many are finding it more and more difficult to find work, and those in work are finding it harder to hold on.

"For many, it has only been a few years since their children have left home, but they are now facing the prospect of caring for an older relative.

"There is clearly a problem that needs to be addressed. While unemployment has been falling in general, among women over 50 it has increased by 30% since 2010.

"Older women who do find themselves out of work often don't get access to the tailored support they need to get back to work.

"These women cannot become a forgotten generation in Scotland - politicians of all parties need to be paying attention to them.''

Ms Alexander stated: "Older women in Scotland are living longer, healthier lives. They are making an important contribution to our society but increasingly they are facing discrimination at work and in public life.''

The commission co-chair added: "Older women still have so much to offer that can benefit the Scottish economy - but they are overlooked for promotion by employers, subject to harassment at work and are much more likely to be unemployed than men of a similar age or younger women.

"Over the next year, I want this commission to get to the bottom of these challenges.''

Ms Tolmie said: "At the age of 50, most women still have many years of work left in them, but too often they are overlooked in the workplace.

"This isn't acceptable. They still have a significant contribution to make and they should be able to make it.

"We want this commission to be as open as possible and we want to hear from women the length and breadth of Scotland about their experience and what they think politicians should be prioritising.''