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IDOP : spreading the word right from now

The International Day of Older Persons will be celebrated on the 1st of October. As an activist for the rights of older persons it is our bounden duty to keep high on our agenda this landmark date. The theme for this year speaks for itself: The Journey to Age Equality. So we start on the unchallenged premise that older persons do not always enjoy equality and for some or for many equality is utopia.

UN Resolution

In 1991 the UN general Assembly designated by Resolution 45/106 the 1 October the International Day of Older Persons. (IDOP).

We are moving from 700 million people over 60 as at now to 2 billion by 2050 meaning 20% of the world population will be 60 and over. ‘The increase in the number of older persons will be the greatest and the most rapid in the developing world with Asia topping the list, and Africa facing the largest proportionate growth’’ according to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).

Against this backdrop it is imperative to brainstorm on the particular needs and challenges faced by older persons. It stands to reason that we should recognize the essential contribution older persons continue to make to society and the potential to expand this contribution in as much as adequate guarantees are put in place. Simply the rights of older persons have to be respected.

The guiding principle as inspired by the UN Secretary-General of ‘leaving no one behind’ requires of us to understand that ‘demography matters for sustainable development and that population dynamics will shape the key development challenges that the world is confronting in the 21st century’. (UNDESA)

I’ll take mine this mantra, that of ‘building the future we want’ so we must address the population over 60, around 1.4 billion in 2030.Tomorrow.

2030 Agenda & the SDGs

Development will not be complete if a section of the population is excluded, here the older ones. For this to happen older persons must be made to participate actively in social, economic and political matters which is one way to ensure inclusiveness and reduce inequalities. The IDOP theme for 2019, the Journey to Age Equality corresponds with Sustainable Goal 10 targeting Reduced Inequalities.

Decision makers, civil society, NGOs and CBOs, in short all stake holders, beyond those who ‘work’ uniquely for older persons are invited to focus on pathways of coping with existing and preventing future old age inequality. SDG 10 calls upon us to ‘’empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race. Ethnicity, origin, religion, or economic or any other status.’’

I go back to my college days where we learnt a country is rich but the wealth is not equitably distributed. So many people are left behind. Now more than ever we should work towards an inclusive policy that will create conditions for a journey to age equality.

2019 IDOP Objectives

The objectives of IDOP are to:

  • help draw attention to the existence of old age inequality, and how this often results from an accumulation of disadvantages throughout life and highlight intergenerational risk of increased  old age inequality.
  • bring awareness to the urgency of coping with existing and preventing future old age inequality
  •  explore societal and structural changes in view of life course policies: life-long learning, proactive and adaptive labour policies, social protection and universal health coverage
  •  reflect on best practice, lessons and progress on the journey to ending older age inequality and changing negative narratives and stereotypes involving ‘’older age’’.

Getting to work

In its declared mission of mass education DIS-MOI will contribute to outreach as many groups of people as possible on the way to the 1 October and beyond. The advent of Age Equality will be a leitmotiv never to be abandoned. This enterprise will only be successful with the participation of older people themselves, men and women, younger adults and in and out of school youth. Everybody should own and participate in the realization of above objectives.

To recall

Mauritius reaffirmed its stand in favour of a new UN Convention for the Rights of older persons at the 10th Open- ended Working Group on Ageing at the UN in April last. This is a laudable decision which goes in line with the IDOP theme: on the Journey to age equality.

By : Vijay Naraidoo
President of the Commission for the Rights of Older People of DIS-MOI

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