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Empowering older people at the UN

12 Feb 2013

We were at the UN to discuss policies that take into account older people's opinions.Last week, the 51st session of the Commission for Social Development (CSD) began at the United Nations in New York. Each year, the Commission takes up key social development themes; the focus this year is on empowerment.

This CSD included a review of plans and programmes worldwide that deal with certain social groups. Older people, as a social group, had a particular focus, as this year is the year for the ten-year review of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA). Indeed, a HelpAge delegation, including me, was present in New York to highlight the need to focus on empowering older men and women.

Improving quality of life for all

Members of the HelpAge International global network attended meetings to recommend that future development goals and the post-2015 development process are age-inclusive, with the goal of improving the quality of life for all.

The post-2015 development process is an important opportunity to acknowledge ageing and ensure that that the concerns of older people are taken forward in the framework that emerges. To that effect, we organised an event on Friday on how to develop sustainable ageing policies in the post-2015 agenda together with the Government of Finland and the United Nations Population Fund.

Policies that benefit all generations

Our aim was to present and discuss new thinking and innovations to ensure that the development framework for the post-2015 framework be sustainable, inclusive, rights-based and accountable to populations as they age, and that policies benefit all generations.

Richard Blewitt, HelpAge's Chief Executive was also there and teamed up with one of our Affiliates in the US, AARP, on empowering older people around the world, using our Age Demands Action campaign as a case study.

HelpAge USA discussed the importance for development of the empowerment of older people at the civil society forum. This is a great time for raising awareness about the important role older people have been quietly playing behind the scenes in the world's development.

Whether they are conducting a micro-entreprise, raising their grandchildren or teaching about HIV prevention; they have a perspective and a voice that the world needs to hear.

Meet our Age Demands Action leaders and find out what they have to say. 

Your comments

john garrett jones

Here is an older person's thought about the UN [I'm 85]: A century after the “war to end wars” we still cling to the forlorn hope that a world in which nations are permitted to have their own armies and declare war against other nations can somehow live together in peace. Even within nations there are escalating threats of takeover by armed insurgents The NATO wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have left so many casualties and created so many additional problems, it would be groundless optimism to suppose military ‘solutions’ can ever work. Yet Israel and the Ukraine still battle against their opponents as if guns and bombs can resolve their differences. We are all collectively responsible for the mess we are in. When we set up the UN in 1945 we acquiesced in the power of veto given to the permanent members of the security council. We were accepting that nation states were capable of running the planet for the common good whilst also accepting that national leaders were primarily elected to promote their own national interest, if necessary by military means. It is totally inadequate to imagine that vast amounts of international aid will be an acceptable response to the Syrian or Gazan or Iraqi or Ukrainian nightmares or any similar situations on other continents. We have a global problem to deal with not just local disasters; it cries out for a global response. We cannot go on sticking plaster on ‘regrettable’ wounds. We have to go to the root of the problem to prevent the wounds being inflicted. We also need to do some hard thinking about the traditional macho male stereotype. It has been fed into our genes over millennia of tribal warring but it is the last thing we need, especially now. If we care for this planet, the only one we have, time is rapidly running out. Weapons of all descriptions are pouring off production lines every minute. The longer we drag our feet, the bigger the problem we face. This is no “alternative” issue; change will only happen if the overwhelming majority of the world’s people will it to happen; each one of us can play a part in helping to make it happen. We have the UN but if the concept of “united nations” is to be more than a pious hope, the UN has to be empowered to bring about a new world order - but a real one this time. For a fuller statement, go to my webpage. Ask your browser for ….. John Garrett Jones [You will find a brief biography and my email address at the links at bottom of my homepage. All feedback is very welcome]

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Author profile

Bethany Brown
Country: USA
Job title: Policy Director, HelpAge USA

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.