“It's all about being a woman”: Intersections of multiple (dis)advantages experienced by older women in Tanzania

Sylivia Karen Rutagumirwa, Ajay Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Across the world, the experiences of women in later life vary enormously, not only along intersectional lines, but also due to cumulative (dis)advantages over an individual's life course. The current study explores how early-life structural (dis)advantages experienced by older African women (particularly experiences related to economic adversity and the social disadvantages that often accompany it) shape their later life experiences and agency. The life stories used in this paper emerged from a larger qualitative study of aging and gender identities in Tanzania based on fifteen (15) in-depth interviews and ten (10) focus group discussions with women 60 to 82 years old. Analyzing the data from an intersectional perspective and life course approach demonstrated that older women's situations area result of the complex interaction of various structural and individual factors, and that timing is crucial for exercising agency. The findings also revealed that as a result of gender norms, the majority of older Tanzanian women were vulnerable to discrimination, poverty, and violence. The norms that promote gender discrimination also limit women's agency and social functioning subject to the constraints imposed. To help protect older women against discrimination and violence, gender-sensitive policies, social programs and legal reforms are critical for speed up the pace of change and foster permanent shifts in harmful gender norms so that aging experiences are no longer all about being a woman.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101021
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Publication statusPublished - 06-2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health Policy


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