UN chief highlights resilience of older people on International Day

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UNITED NATIONS, (UrduPoint/Pakistan Point News – October 1, 2022): UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres drew attention on Saturday, the International Day of Older Persons (IDOP), to the “resilience of more than a billion older women and men” in a rapidly changing world.

“The last few years have been marked by dramatic upheavals and older people have often found themselves at the epicenter of crises,” he said in a video message, adding that they were vulnerable to “a whole range of challenges”, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the worsening climate crisis, proliferating conflicts and growing poverty.

“Yet in the face of these threats, older people have inspired us with their remarkable resilience.”

“Our task as societies and as a global community is to meet the challenges of longevity and unlock its potential,” the UN chief continued, urging everyone to “promote social, economic and political inclusion of all people at all ages”.

He recalled that this commitment is enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adding that lifelong learning, strong social protection, accessible and quality long-term health care, reduction of the digital divide, intergenerational support, dignity and respect “are essential”.

“Older persons are a tremendous source of knowledge and experience,” the UN chief said, stressing the need to work to “ensure their active engagement, full participation and essential contributions.”

In doing so, “we will build more inclusive and age-friendly societies and a more resilient world,” he concluded.

The UN marks the IDOP by encouraging countries to call attention to negative stereotypes and misconceptions about older people and aging, to challenge them and to enable older people to fulfill their potential.

Although they continue to make significant contributions to politics, civil society, culture and society at large, their contributions and experiences remain largely invisible and ignored, limited by the gender-related disadvantages accumulated throughout of life.

This includes the intersection between age and gender discrimination, which combines ageism and sexism.

The IDOP serves as a mark and reminder of the important role that older women play in overcoming global challenges and providing solutions, with resilience and courage.

Recognizing the vital contributions of older women and promoting the inclusion of their voices, perspectives and needs are key to creating meaningful policies to enhance a holistic response.

This year, the UN declares the day a call to action and an opportunity to raise the voices of older women and showcase their resilience and contributions to society, while promoting policy dialogues to strengthen protecting the human rights of older persons and recognizing their contributions to sustainable development.

Along with the call to ensure older women are counted and visible, eight UN-appointed independent human rights experts have endorsed a statement issued by Claudia Mahler, the independent expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by the elderly.

They hailed the role that older women play in peacebuilding and conflict resolution as bearers of pre-conflict narratives, countering extreme nationalist tendencies, preventing radicalization and acting as repositories of knowledge of community dynamics.

“Older women themselves are the best advocates for their own needs, concerns and rights,” the UN experts argued, adding that states should include them in all relevant policy design, implementation and feedback.

“Older women (must) have access to information about laws, policies and services that affect their lives in order to be able to make informed decisions and participate meaningfully.” Making older women’s perspectives visible helps combat harmful and damaging gender stereotypes, they added.

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