With this week we are coming toward the end of a woman's life and the conclusion of our course on International Women's Health and Human Rights. It seems appropriate to round out our discussions in this eighth week with the topics of aging and the end of life, a time that holds both adventure and perhaps a little sadness. This topic is very personal to me because I definitely fit in to the category of older women. I have found aging to be interesting, though somewhat challenging. My mother, when she was in her 70's, told me that she felt that this time of life was a time of loss. One loses capacities, eyesight and hearing are not as clear as they used to be, one might decide to never again take on particular physical challenges, such as bungee jumping, and one loses colleagues and friends as their lives end. Others move away to be near children and grandchildren or to enter a residential arrangement for older people. At the same time, at this age, I know much more clearly what is important to me. Priorities become very clear and, at least in my case, I try to make every minute count. Putting this course online is an example of a new experience, an interesting adventure, and I've learned a lot. The fastest growing population group in the world is older women. The world has never had as many old people as we have now and the pace of growth of the world's older population has accelerated. The majority of the elderly are women because, on average, women live longer than men. Footnote 42 on page 297 of our text gives some explanations for this phenomenon. More than half of the world's women aged 65 years and over are living in developing countries. What does it mean to be elderly or aging? The answer to this question will differ from country to country. Women in Sierra Leone live an average of 47 years. In Bhutan the average is 69. And in Japan, women can expect to live to 86. In some countries in Africa, for example, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, life expectancy of women and men has dropped to between 35 and 45 years primarily because of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. You might want to go to the website listed below to see how long women may expect to live in your country. The demographic group of women over 60 years of age will only continue to grow as many poor countries experience the increasing life expectancy already evident in richer countries. The number of women over age 60 will nearly triple, between 2000 and 2050, from about 350,000 now, to just over a billion in 2050, and the majority of these older women will continue to live in developing countries. Experts call this growing percentage of females among the elderly, "The feminization of aging." Longer life expectancy may seem to be a sign of progress, of increasing wealth and access to health care among all people. However, this is not the case. Not only are the old likely to be women but they are also likely to be poor. The Chief Executive of Help Age International explains that the developing world faces the harsh reality that it is growing old before it is growing rich with potentially traumatic consequences for old people and their families and societies. The consequences of aging and poverty are not merely traumatic. They violate the human rights of the elderly. Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights essentially states that poverty among older people, combined with social exclusion and discriminatory attitudes, is a violation of human rights. Aging is a gendered experience. A 1999 UN International Institute on Aging publication notes that throughout life and in all societies, males and females play different roles, receive different rewards, and experience differing realities. Many have suffered throughout their lives from poor health, malnutrition, illiteracy and low social status, simply because they were born female. It seems that gender bias and discrimination intensify in old age though it is expressed in different ways in different cultures. Please read Chapter 9 of our text on aging, making sure, as always, to read the descriptions of women's groups at the end of the chapter addressing the issue of aging. We have an interview with Carol Winograd, a gerontologist who teaches at Stanford, speaking on issues of women and aging. We include in our additional resources, several photographs by Paola Gianturco, who has kindly allowed us to include some of her photographs which feature activist grandmothers worldwide.