Doing It from Your Heart: The Role of Older Women as Informal Volunteers Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper explores the contributions made by older women to the community as informal volunteers. It argues that ageing policy is not gender neutral and tends to ignore the contributions made by women outside paid work. As well as being ignored in policy, women's unpaid roles have been denigrated by some feminist commentators, who suggest that these roles subordinate the position of women. The aim of the present paper is to explore the lived experiences of older women in relation to their informal volunteer roles, using role identity theory as a framework. The study utilizes data from a qualitative study using focus group methodology. Findings demonstrate that informal volunteering contributes to the women's identity and gives their lives meaning. These findings suggest that a more positive policy framework around ageing is needed to ensure that the worth of these contributions is recognised.

publication date

  • June 12, 2006