150 ‘sisters’ born on same day join worldwide ageing project

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Meeting someone born on the same day as you doesn’t happen often, but imagine finding 150 of them.It’s a situation QUT professor and psychologist Dr Linda Gilmore finds herself in after a decade of detective work.The 67-year-old said she was on a mission to track down women born on June 12, 1951 for a long-term research project tracking attitudes to ageing.She has found 150 women who entered the world that day — a Tuesday — and around a third of them keep in regular contact via social media.Many participants posted birthday messages to their “sisters” this week:”Happy birthday to us!””This group is the best birthday gift ever! (Supplied: Dr Linda Gilmore) (Supplied: Dr Linda Gilmore)
Dr Gilmore told ABC Radio Brisbane’s Drive program the project concept came to her out of the blue after meeting a woman her age in a Cambodian village.”She wasn’t born on the same day as me, but it started me thinking about how we are born in a particular context and how that context influences our opportunities and life experiences,” she said.”Because I’m a developmental psychologist and researcher, tracking lives over time and looking at the influence of context and serendipitous life events really fits with a focus on psychology.”The women involved are working on plans for a 70th birthday party somewhere in the world in 2021.Tracking down birth buddies a challengeDr Gilmore has connected with women in 36 countries, including England, Italy and the Netherlands.”This one woman who was born in Iraq and is an only child talks about us being the sisters she never had,” she said. (Supplied: Dr Linda Gilmore)
Connections across bordersDr Gilmore said her newfound friends’ stories differed dramatically depending on where they were born.Some were professionals at the top of their fields, others never had access to higher education and some had battled illness and hardship. “One is a filmmaker in Africa, one is an actress, there’s a successful writer of children’s books in the United States and a professor of economics in Portugal.”Based on life-expectancy statistics and other data, Dr Gilmore estimated 40,000 to 70,000 women born on June 12, 1951 could be alive and able to participate in her research project.She said her next challenge was to attract more women from non-Westernised countries.”Most of the ways I’ve accessed [women] has been through the internet, through Facebook advertising in particular,” she said.”Being able to access women born in less-developed countries is fraught with difficulties because of illiteracy and in many cases they don’t even know their exact date of birth.”Initially Dr Gilmore planned to pen a book that tracked the lives of 20 women who shared her birth date.Now, she’s working on research looking at the differences and similarities of each participant’s experiences and attitudes around ageing. Global search for June 12 ‘sisters’ A Brisbane researcher has searched the world for 150 women who have one thing in common. Photo:
Research participants Caroline and June met up in Venice in 2016. Photo:
Women from all corners of the globe, including Alora from South Africa, have come forward. Photo:
One of the project’s participants is Czesia from Poland. (Supplied: Dr Linda Gilmore)
“If you were born into a country like Bangladesh, Hungary or Serbia, then in your lifetime, up until our age now, you would have experienced depravation, war, famine, conflict and all sorts of experiences that here in Australia I’ve not had,” she said.”Some of the women have not had an easy life because of their family circumstances.”There are many, many differences like that and it’s interesting to explore those differences.”There’s plenty of similarities for the women involved to draw on too.”We’ve been going through the changes for women across our lifetime,” Dr Gilmore said.”They’ve been quite massive and we’ve been able to share that.”Most of us probably have children or grandchildren, a few even have great-grandchildren.”If you share the same birthday, you can visit Dr Gilmore’s website to get involved. We are all so lucky to share Linda’s birthday.””Wonderful friendships that have enriched our lives forever.””We may be separated by borders and oceans, but we are united by this birthday and our love of life.””My life has truly been blessed since you put the group together.”

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Dr Linda Gilmore has connected with 150 women who share the same birthday as her.
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Hailey Renault

Posted

June 14, 2018 09:34:57

Photo:
Linda Gilmore (left) and Ragnhild, from Norway, meeting in Venice. (Supplied: Dr Linda Gilmore)

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