Innovative ’Uncertain Futures’ project highlighted in recent WHO report

Life expectancy has increased globally - however, in employment, healthcare and communities, older people face significant challenges which can prevent them from living healthy, dignified lives. The UN’s Decade of Healthy Aging, 2021-2023 was established to help address these challenges.

A recent report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) assessed the progress made in the first phase of this Decade. In the report, the authors provide case studies of key stakeholder groups who have contributed to this work, with the aim of inspiring further activity around healthy aging.

One case study in the report is the innovative Uncertain Futures art and research project. Led by Dr Elaine Dewhurst (The University of Manchester), Dr Sarah Campbell (Manchester Met), Ruth Edson (Manchester Art Gallery) and artist Suzanne Lacy , the project highlights the inequalities faced by women over 50 years of age in relation to work, both paid and unpaid.

As part of the research, one hundred women from diverse backgrounds in Manchester were interviewed about their experiences of work. Co-production was key throughout the project, and the WHO report references the Uncertain Futures Project Advisory Group, consisting of 15 older women in Manchester who contributed to all stages of the project.

"We are delighted that our project has been recognised in this important report, which highlights a variety of activities in support of healthy ageing in over 50 countries," said Dr Dewhurst. "It demonstrates the importance of working with diverse groups of older women to create real workable solutions to the difficulties they face."

Our report highlights the multiple challenges faced by older women with respect to work, including a lack of recognition of their vast (often unpaid) contributions, the discrimination they face and the impact of fragmentation on their retirement and pensions.


Last month, the Uncertain Futures team also launched their own research report, ’ Uncertain Futures: 100 Women ,’ to over sixty invited delegates at a highly successful event in Manchester Art Gallery. Key findings and policy recommendations were discussed by an expert panel of Professor Sarah Vickerstaff (University of Kent), Ben Harrison (Work Foundation), Dr Katy Jones (Manchester Met), and Dr Asma Khan (Centre for British Muslim Studies, University of Cardiff). The launch also featured presentations from the Project Advisory Group and the screening of the project documentary.

The Uncertain Futures team are now planning follow up activity to ensure their recommendations are implemented, contributing to better futures for older women. To find out more, please contact Dr Sarah Campbell via email.