Julia Alvarez: Champion of older people's rights

19/04/2012

We are very sad to hear of the passing away of Ambassador Julia Tavares de Alvarez. Her dedication to campaigning and championing, for over 40 years, the cause of older women and men has been inspirational for all those who had the fortune to be in contact with her.

For 23 years she worked within the United Nations as Ambassador, Alternate Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations. Her work resulted in the concrete and visionary achievement of the UN Day of Older Persons, now celebrated worldwide on and around 1 October. The day provides a much needed voice and visibility to older women and men everywhere in all kinds of ways.

A pioneer for global ageing

Known as the ‘Ambassador of Ageing', Ambassador Alvarez was the driving force behind the second World Assembly on Ageing of 2002 and its resulting Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing and Political Declaration, which provides a comprehensive framework for the advancement of older people and issues of ageing worldwide. Her tireless advocacy for the realisation of the rights of older women and men was recognised in many ways. On 6 October 2011, she received a lifetime award for being a pioneer for global ageing and a tireless champion of equality. Ambassador Julia Alvarez's dedication resulted in 1 October being recognised as the UN International Day of Older Persons. Ambassador Julia Alvarez's dedication resulted in 1 October being recognised as the UN International Day of Older Persons.

Since 2007, HelpAge has supported a global campaign for older people called Age Demands Action. This campaign began its life with a focus on 1 October, the International Day of Older Persons. It is grounded in principles of participation, self determination and solidarity and has resulted in a range of concrete improvements for older people, including pensions, access to health services and subsidised transport.

Richard Blewitt, CEO of HelpAge added: "As we recall her words, ‘Make no mistake about it, my vision is not about simply shifting resources in the spirit of giving, but rather the creation of the true world community of feeling and consciousness. This is a world in which people have the same status. This is a vision that is not about charity but rather solidarity', we take this opportunity to dedicate this campaign to Ambassador Alvarez."

Ambassador Alvarez has left an immense legacy, and we have to work to continue to meet the standard set by her - for older people and humanity.

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