Women and Dementia

Women and Dementia

Dementia is a global women’s health, social care and rights issue that can no longer be ignored. 

Around the world, more women than men live with dementia and face gender-specific barriers to living well with the disease.

Work with us to help shape a gendered approach to global action on dementia and to support those already involved in dementia policy and practice to get it right for every woman living with or affected by dementia around the world.


Breaking news

Today (22 November) the actress Carey Mulligan joined UN Secretary-General António Guterres on a panel at UNHQ in New York to mark the official commemoration of the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Carey delivered a statement on the impact of dementia on women including stigma, discrimination and violence women around the world with the condition can face.

More on UN panel


Global challenge

Dementia is listed by the World Health Organisation in the top ten causes of death for women worldwide and is now the biggest cause of death for women in the UK.

The economic and social disadvantage that women face in many societies can stop those living with dementia from receiving sufficient health and social support. Globally, women provide the majority of both unpaid and formal care to people living with dementia.

People living with dementia in every culture can face stigma and even abuse due to their condition, but for older women, age and gender-discrimination can compound this treatment.

Of the 29 countries in the world with a national plan to tackle dementia, only 12 acknowledge what it really means for women. The absence of gender-perspectives in current dementia policy and programming points to the vital significance of international civil society collaborating with dementia specialists and government policy makers to mainstream gender-equality into future responses.

Yet there is hope. In May 2017, the World Health Assembly adopted the groundbreaking Global Action Plan on Dementia. The plan makes recommendations, which for the first time include a gender sensitive approach to improve the care, quality of life and prospects of women affected by dementia. We must urge governments the world over to back this plan, for the sake of everyone affected by dementia.


Our work

Webinar

Hidden Voices: Women Speak Out on Dementia

On Thursday 19 October international civil society members and policy-makers from around the world came together to learn more about one of the 21st century’s biggest global health priorities and its effect on women worldwide.

More on ‘Hidden Voices: Women Speak Out on Dementia

Short Film 

To mark World Alzheimer’s Month, GADAA released the short film, And Then I Looked Up Dementia… Women Speak Out’.

Telling the story of women across the world affected by dementia, GADAA’s new short highlights that the condition is a global women’s health, social care and rights issue that can no longer be ignored.   

More on ‘And Then I Looked Up Dementia’

Report: Women & Dementia: A Global Challenge

Our new Women & Dementia: A Global Challenge report collates published research on the issue and highlights that the prevalence, care burden and stigma of dementia disproportionately affects women, making it a global women’s health, social care and rights challenge that can no longer be ignored. This report analyses existing national policy responses to the gendered challenges of dementia and outlines the international frameworks that can guide national dementia plans and initiatives to providing gender-appropriate responses.

More on Women & Dementia: A Global Challenge report

Expert-led seminar

On 2 March 2017 GADAA held an expert-led seminar marking International Women’s Day. Gender and development iNGOs, dementia specialists, academics and government representatives came together to discuss the global challenge that dementia poses to women. The event was also live streamed for participants outside of the UK.

More on our expert-led seminar

GADAA network

We need to work together to shape, practically how a gendered approach to dementia can be achieved. The GADAA network connects a broad spectrum of international civil society organisations including international development organisations, women’s organisations, health-focused NGOs, disability rights champions, human rights organisations and faith based groups. Through the GADAA network we aim to champion global action on dementia and to support NGOs in responding to the global challenge.

Contact us if your iNGO would like to join the GADAA network to progress this issue, or if you are a women or dementia expert interested in collaborating with the GADAA network.


Key facts

  • Dementia is listed by the World Health Organisation in the top ten causes of death for women worldwide and is now the biggest cause of death for women in the UK.
  • Throughout the world, women experience higher dementia prevalence rates than men and face gender-specific barriers to living well with the condition.
  • Women provide the vast majority of both unpaid and formal care to people living with dementia, with around two thirds of primary caregivers around the globe being women, rising to more than 70% in lower and middle income countries.
  • The stigma surrounding dementia exists universally and extreme forms of discrimination can lead to the abuse of women. Older women affected by conditions such as dementia are exposed to what has been termed a ‘triple jeopardy’ discriminated against as a result of their age, sex and condition.
  • A recent UK study identified that women living with dementia are more likely than men to be prescribed psychotropic medication that can negatively affect their physical health.
  • In the US, 20% of female care partners have gone from working full-time to part-time, compared with only 3% of working male caregivers. 19% of working women care partners had to leave work to provide dementia care in the US.
  • Yet of the 29 countries in the world with a national plan to tackle the disease, only 12 offer gender-sensitive responses. There is also no systematic data collection to disaggregate the prevalence, diagnosis rates or impact of dementia on women.

Further reading

Women & Dementia: A Global Challenge

Women & Dementia – A Global Research Review

Women & dementia – not forgotten

Dementia: through the eyes of women