The Journey to Age Equality

A blog by Frances Zainoeddin, SI Representative to the United Nations, New York

‘The Journey to Age Equality’ was the theme for the 2019 celebration of International Day of Older Persons (1 October), held at the United Nations in New York, organised by the NGO Committee on Ageing, and aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 10.

“The traditional notion of a three-stage approach to our working lives – education, followed by work and then retirement – needs to be reconsidered, given the current changing demographics, which show that people are living longer lives.  “Longevity is the issue, not ageing”.  So says Professor Andrew Scott, co-author of ‘The 100-year Life’, a keynote speaker at the celebration held to recognise the International Day of Older Persons.  Mr. Scott called on us to pay attention to the difference between ageing – increased number of older people, and a changing demographic structure, with average age increasing, and longevity – how we are ageing is changing; staying younger for longer.

Mr. Scott pointed out that chronological measures of age are very limiting as they assume uniformity in how people age and that there is a need to recognise diversity amongst older individuals, in much the same as the diversity amongst young people.  He stressed the need for a whole life course approach.  “It is necessary”, he said, “to rethink our education, working lives, finances, and relationships in order to anticipate a 100-year life”.

Mr. Paul Ladd, Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, also called for a life-course approach. “Consign age discrimination to history!” he said, noting that women outlive men and therefore careful attention must be given to ensure that they are able to live longer lives with dignity; many having suffered a lifetime of discrimination, lacking education, autonomy or independence.

The keynote speakers were followed by a panel discussion on ‘Pathways of coping with existing and preventing future old age inequalities’.

Professor Andrew Scott Presentation HERE

Statement by Mr. Paul Ladd HERE

7 Key Messages HERE

The celebration may be viewed on UNWebTV HERE

Soroptimists are encouraged to include International Day of Older Persons (officially 1 October), in their list of annual celebrations – older women need to be celebrated too!”


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