Prioritizing the Elderly

shooting_elderly_portraits_for_a_cause_by_dannyst-d5fycli“We have to do everything for them, and everything with them.” H.E. Carlos Roverssi Rojas representative of Costa Rica on the elderly.

On Thursday, February 7, 2013, the Commission for Social Development held a high-level panel discussion on the Secretary-General’s report on the second review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing.

The panel was moderated by Carlos Enrique Garcia Gonzales, Representative of the Permanent Mission of El Salvador to the United Nations. Regional findings and analyses were presented by Paurina Mpariwa of Zimbabwe, Rudolf Hundstorfer of Austria, Xiao Caiwei of China, Carlos Roverssi Rojas of Costa Rica, and Gisela Nauk of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

The panelists reported that up until this day, a main challenge has been the little recognition of the particular situation of older persons especially women. They stated that this has been due to the lack of political will, weak policies and legal frameworks that acknowledge the basic rights of the elderly. This, along with other competing priorities as well as insufficient research on the needs of older persons have been stumbling blocks in the way forward.

The panelists offered recommendations for the consideration of the member states on the continued implementation of the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing. The panel called for greater inclusion of older persons in the development agenda — giving greater emphasis on health services, income security and social protection coverage that will address the very specific vulnerabilities of the elderly. Moreover, the panel called for wider multi-sectoral coordination by engaging the public and private sectors as well as civil society. Additionally, Mr. Rojas emphasized that there must be a paradigmatic shift from merely protecting older persons to initiatives and policies that “strengthen their autonomy.” This means giving older persons access to resources that will not only allow them to live out their lives in dignity but also to participate in decision making in issues and policies that concern them.

The World Youth Alliance affirms the statement given by Ms. Gisela Nauk that, “older persons are a valuable resource for their families and communities, a source of cultural continuity, and a repository of wisdom and knowledge.” We recognize that all human beings have intrinsic and inviolable dignity, and that every person has an immeasurable capacity to innovate and contribute to development. Older persons must be given the necessary tools and resources that they need to utilize their ingenuity, and to make the best decisions for themselves.

By Mike Pelobello, Intern at WYA HQ, New York.