In Praise of Older Women

centredinternationalwomensdayInternational Women’s Day is celebrated this year on March 8th.

In Canada, roughly 16% of the population is women over the age of 65. By 2036, Statistics Canada projects that older women will account for 25% of the population. A women’s life expectancy (83 years) is longer than that of a man (78.5 years). In Canada, 56% of older adults over the age of 65 are women.

Here’s a small sample of the dynamic older women that can be found in today’s society.

In August of 2013, 64 year old (almost 65!) long distance swimmer Diana Nyad completed the first ever swim (without a shark cage) between the United States and Cuba. It was her fifth attempt (her first was at age 28) and her sensational story ‘Never, Ever Give Up’ is on Ted Talks. “There is no doubt in my mind that I am at the prime of my life today!” Nyad told an admiring Ted Talks audience.

Actress Jane Fonda is now 76 years old. During her Ted Talk entitled ‘Life’s Third Act’ she speaks with passion about ‘The Longevity Revolution’. Fonda states that, “we are still living the old paradigm of age as an arch. You’re born, you peak at mid-life, and decline into decrepitude. Age as pathology”. Fonda contends that, “A more appropriate metaphor for aging is a staircase. The upward ascension of the human spirit, bringing us into wisdom, wholeness and authenticity. Age as potential”. She announces that, “I have never been happier”.

At age 74, poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist and environmental activist Margaret Atwood is legendary. Her latest book Maddaddam was published in 2013 and she shows no signs of slowing down. With her usual wit (check out her collection of comics online) and aplomb she continues to be a force on both the literary and environmental scenes.

Journalist Barbara Walters, age 84, can be seen on television co-hosting ‘The View’. She is also co-creator and co-executive producer. Never one to shy away from controversy, the daytime talk show is a vehicle for women of “different generations, backgrounds, and views.”

On March 8, take the opportunity to look around and notice the older women in your life, and celebrate International Woman’s Day.

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