2000-2001: Equality in the provision of care at home
The ratio of female to male carers is disproportionately high, irrespective of whether the person suffering from dementia is male or female, which represents a lack of equality between men and women. Although we realise that this may be heavily influenced by stereotypes about gender roles and/or a reflection of age-old traditions, we were concerned about the impact that this might have on women in terms of their physical and mental health, employment opportunities and in many cases their economic situation and financial security in old age. We were also concerned about the implications that this gender imbalance might have for men who are carers, those who might have wanted to take on this role and those who may be faced with this decision at some time in the future.
Funding and duration
In 2000, Alzheimer Europe was granted funding from the Social Affairs and Employment DG of the European Commission (Unit EMPL/D/5 Equal opportunities for women and men and matters regarding families and children) to investigate the gender imbalance linked to the task of caring for someone with dementia at home. This formed part of the implementation of the medium-term Community action programme on equal opportunities for men and women (1996 – 2000) - exchange, development and transfer of information and experience on good practice. The project started on 1 July 2000 and was completed on 30 June 2001.
Several member associations, an associate member and a few independent experts were involved in the project, namely:
- Belgium: Ligue Alzheimer
- Denmark: Alzheimerforeningen
- Germany: Deutsche Alzheimer Gesellschaft
- Iceland: FAAS
- Ireland: Alzheimer Society of Ireland
- Italy: Federazione Alzheimer Italia
- Luxembourg: Association Luxembourg Alzheimer
- Norway: Nasjonalforeningen Demensforbundet
- Spain: Fundacion Alzheimer Espana
- Ireland: European Institute of Women's Health
- Luxembourg: Viviane ECKER Gender - Legal expert of the EPOCH project
- United Kingdom: Roger NEWMAN from the Gay Carers Helpline of the Alzheimer's Society
- United Kingdom: Christine FEAR from the University of the West of England
Our main goals were:
- to find out men and women’s reasons for becoming or not becoming a carer;
- to look at how men and women deal with caring and how it affects them;
- to look at people’s attitudes towards care and carers insofar as this relates to gender roles;
- to look for examples of good practice;
- to consider how the situation for male and female carers might be improved;
- to create a greater awareness amongst the general public and the relevant authorities about the gender imbalance and the structures or factors which serve to maintain and perpetuate it.
Two approaches were adopted:
- a questionnaire which was distributed in the participating countries and through our website,
- the collection of relevant information by participants and where necessary by contacting the relevant authorities in the field of healthcare, employment, insurance and pensions.
At the end of the project a report was written which contained our main findings. A short summary has also been written which will soon be available in English, French, German, Icelandic, Norwegian, Italian, Spanish and Danish.
Last Updated: Wednesday 25 April 2012