23rd Annual Observance of the International Day of Older Persons

Date and Location: Wednesday, October 9th, 2013; 10am-1am, ECOSOC chamber

Key Speakers: Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development of the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs; Shireen Said, Policy Advisor, United Nations Development Programme; Mr. James Collins, Chair NGO Committee on Ageing/New York; H.E. Kingsley Mamabolo, Ambassador to the UN from South Africa; Paul Ladd, Head of the Team on the Post 2015 Development Agenda; M. Mahbub Kamal, Member of the National Federation of Older Person in Bangaldesh; Mateo Estrémé, Minister of Deputy Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nations

Author: Rachel Lauren

Building the Future we wantOn the 29th Annual Observance of the International Day of Older Persons, the issues that come with a rapidly aging society were discussed. The theme of the celebration was “The Future We want: What Older Persons Are Saying”, and this was first addressed by Daniela Bas and emphasized in a message from Secretary General of the UN, Ban-Ki Moon, which stated that the barriers for older persons from participation in society should be removed and their rights should be maintained.

James Collins read two messages: one from the governor of New York and one from the Mayor, both proclaiming and recognizing Wednesday, October 9th as the International Day of Older Persons. Mateo Estrémé commended the work done by the UN Committee on Aging as well as mentioned that elder persons have become a compelling and expanding force in politics and decision-making processes around the world.

Many of the speakers agreed that shifting demographics in the world must be addressed with the 2015 Millennium Goal deadline fast approaching. One in particular, Shireen Said, felt that although the MDG’s were comprehensive, the committee needed to look beyond the goals of the MDG’s in order to address the growing needs of older persons, especially in terms of solutions for labor discrimination as well as human rights. Kingsley Mamabolo proposed that there should be a legally binding instrument between nations by which they can increase the rights of older persons, as well as a forum for older persons and a UN convention on the human rights of older persons.

Paul Lad, the head of the team on post-2015 development goals, spoke about international surveys and focus groups conducted by his team in order to understand what each nation needs in terms of protection for older persons. The general consensus amongst many of the surveys was that older persons felt much inequality in their daily lives as well as the workplace. In addition, he called for higher-level data systems in order to track the progress of the goals set by this new agenda aimed towards older persons.

The conversation ended with the discussion of a specific nation in which these issues are surfacing, Bangladesh. Mahbub Kamal spoke of the strides that Bangladesh is making in order to integrate the older person’s perspective through Older Persons Associations, or OPA’s, as well as NGO’s such as HelpAge.

Edited by: Wayne Dean Doyle

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