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Social Justice and Community Engagement


This research emerged from the author’s own need to identify and make visible the various activist practice of elder women with the hope of shedding new light on unseen activisms among women who are not part of high-visibility identity-based activist groups. Research to date has focused on a few very prominent movements like the Raging Grannies. However, there has been little attention to the unseen activisms that elder women are engaged in. Using critical feminist gerontology and principles of autoethnography, individual interviews were conducted with six women (age 50+) to discover their views on social justice and their place in activism and advocacy. The results revealed three key findings. The first is that elder women struggle to identify as activists, preferring to align themselves with advocacy. They also questioned what activism is and what it includes. The second was that the women’s positionality and intersectional identities impacted how they viewed, understood, and practiced activism. And finally, the women had a very strong tendency to downplay their contributions resulting in self-invisibilization of their activism and advocacy. As many of the women are currently advocating for issues directly related to aging and their future well-being, self-invisibilization could pose challenges if their actions and their voices are not seen and heard. In addition, the intersectionality of age, race, and gender emerged as an area requiring further exploration. The women’s varied life experiences greatly impacted how they engaged, the issues they focused on, and their perspective on the importance and value of their work. Overall, the findings contribute to fuller understanding how elder women engage in advocacy and activism and how we can support them in grassroots movements and organizations.