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International Day of Older Persons

Between 2015 and 2030, the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals, the number of older persons worldwide is set to increase by 56 per cent — from 901 million to more than 1.4 billion. By 2030, the number of people aged 60 and above will exceed that of young people aged 15 to 24.

Ageism is a widely prevalent and prejudicial attitude that stems from the assumption that age discrimination, and sometimes neglect and abuse of older persons is a social norm and therefore, acceptable. It is a reality in some form in all societies, and finds expression in individuals’ attitudes, institutional and policy practices, as well as media representation that devalue and exclude older persons. In 2014, Governments around the world adopted a resolution at the Economic and Social Council that recognized ageism as “the common source of, the justification for and the driving force behind age discrimination.”

On 14 December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly (by resolution 45/106) designated 1 October the International Day of Older Persons (UNIDOP), which seeks to promote an age inclusive agenda.

Theme for 2021

The theme of the 202 commemoration is “Digital Equity for All Ages“. The 2021 theme affirms the need for access and meaningful participation in the digital world by older persons.

The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize that development will only be achievable if it is inclusive of all ages. Empowering older persons in all dimensions of development, including promoting their active participation in social, economic and political life, is one way to ensure their inclusiveness and reduce inequalities.

The fourth industrial revolution characterized by rapid digital innovation and by exponential growth has transformed all sectors of society, including how we live, work and relate to one another. Technological advances offer great hope for accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet, one-half of the global population is off-line, with the starkest contrast between the most developed countries (87%) and the least developed countries (19%) (ITU Facts and Figures 2020). Recent reports by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) indicate that women and older persons experience digital inequity to a greater extent than other groups in society; they either lack access to technologies, or are often not benefitting fully from the opportunities provided by technological progress.

Meanwhile, as efforts to connect more people are currently under way, new risks have become apparent. For example, cybercrimes and misinformation threaten the human rights, privacy, and security of older people. The rapid speed of adoption of digital technology has outpaced policy and governance at the national, regional, and global levels. 

The 2021 theme aims to:

  • To bring awareness of the importance of digital inclusion of older persons, while tackling stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination associated with digitalization, taking into account sociocultural norms and the right to autonomy.
  • To highlight policies to leverage digital technologies for full achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
  • To address public and private interests, in the areas of availability, connectivity, design, affordability, capacity building, infrastructure, and innovation.
  • To explore the role of policies and legal frameworks to ensure privacy and safety of older persons in the digital world.
  • To highlight the need for a legally binding instrument on the rights of older persons and an intersectional person-centered human rights approach for a society for all ages.

The Madrid International Plan of Action

In the Political Declaration adopted in Madrid, Member States reaffirmed their commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, and called for the elimination of age discrimination, neglect, abuse and violence. More specifically, the Madrid International Plan contained guidance on the right to work, the right to health, participation and equality of opportunity throughout life, stressing the importance of the participation of older persons in decision-making processes at all levels.

The priorities set out in the Madrid International Plan of Action include a wide range of issues: equal employment opportunities for all older persons; programmes that enable all workers to acquire social protection and social security, including, where applicable, pensions, disability insurance and health benefits; and sufficient minimum income for all older persons, with particular attention to socially and economically disadvantaged groups. The importance of continuous education, vocational guidance and placement services are also stressed, including for the purpose of maintaining a maximum functional capacity and enhancing public recognition of the productivity and the contributions of older persons. Health is also a key feature of the Madrid Plan of Action. The provisions encompass notions of prevention, equal access to health care, active participation, the impact of HIV/AIDS in respect to older persons and the full functionality of supportive and care-giving environments.

Source : United Nations

Related resources

  1. Political Declaration and Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (2002)
  2. Decade of Healthy Ageing (2020 - 2030)


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