Stakeholder Group on Ageing

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

1. Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals necessitate bold actions. Older persons have paid a heavy toll during Covid-19. Age-inclusive recovery, to ensure that older persons are not left behind, requires:

  • Addressing severe violations of their human rights;
  • Recognizing their contributions to the economy, society and family;
  • Enshrining their rights in national and international legislation.

2. Unprecedented global attention was drawn to the unequal healthcare treatment for COVID-19 in the form of priority setting that excluded and discriminated against older persons. Older persons were stigmatized, found abandoned, abused, neglected and dead in care institutions and in their homes, lacking safeguards to long-term and palliative care, or home-based health care. They were denied access to treatments, protective equipment and vaccines, particularly in low and middle income countries. Affordable preventive care, treatment, rehabilitation, and long-term care including palliative care must be accessible for persons of all ages in all settings.

3. In the absence of job security and flexible retirement regulations, many older workers became unemployed, were dismissed, or forced to retire against their wishes, without adequate social protection. Job loss resulted in their significant overrepresentation among the long-term unemployed. Lockdowns hit older workers in the informal sector particularly hard. Increased poverty threatened the right to a decent life and dignity.

4. Overcoming ageism in the world of work entails social protection, including safety nets for informal workers. Obstacles to labour market participation of older workers must be overcome by adhering to international obligations for equal treatment of workers at all ages, introducing incentives to employ and retain older workers, providing lifelong learning opportunities and digital access. Ageist stereotypes persist – despite the economic need to employ a growing share of older workers to sustain growth.

5. Access to justice has been hampered for older persons by lockdowns of legal institutions, complex proceedings, lack of access to information and excessive costs in the absence of a globally agreed monitoring mechanism to provide evidence on the worsening health, social and economic status of older persons.

6. Barriers to achieving the SDGs related to poverty, health, decent work, economic growth and gender equality, include age discrimination in law and practice. Ageing is not a problem; ageism is the problem.

7. The Stakeholder Group on Ageing urges Member States to:

  • a. embrace the contributions of older persons;
  • b. implement the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing;
  • c. fully implement international labour standards and guarantees of older workers’ rights to decent work and social protection;
  • d. combat ageism by abolishing all forms of age exclusion and age discrimination; and
  • e. establish legal measures to ensure equality and access to justice.

8. An inclusive path for recovery and accomplishment of the SDGs includes:

  • a. empowerment of older persons with age-inclusive legislation and policies;
  • b. achievement of a just society for all people of all ages;
  • c. development of a convention to protect the rights of older persons.
United Nations