Last week members of the HelpAge EU network joined together in Brussels to call on Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to recognise and respond to population ageing as a critical issue within development and humanitarian policy.
The breakfast meeting, which took place at the European Parliament and was hosted by German MEP Knut Fleckenstein, included MEPs across the political spectrum.
How the EU can help leave no one behind
Agenda 2030 was among the issues discussed, in particular how the Sustainable Development Goals have the potential to transform the lives of older people if implemented fully.
"The 2030 Agenda for Change can and must benefit people of all ages. The EU must use its considerable influence at the international level to be a strong voice in ensuring no one is left behind," said Mr Fleckenstein.
Members of the European Parliament acknowledged that ageing is a triumph of development, not a burden, and we all share the responsibility to shift this attitude.
HelpAge’s EU network launched its briefing paper Ending gender inequality in older age: Guidance for EU development policy during the meeting, with the multi-layered discrimination faced by older women emerging as an issue of concern. The MEPs highlighted that many barriers faced by older women in developing countries are shared with older women in the EU, as gender-based discrimination combines with age discrimination in later life regardless of location.
The strong acknowledgement of the disproportionate impact of humanitarian crises on older people by MEPs was also welcomed by the HelpAge EU network.
"Currently Europe’s attention is focused on the thousands of refugees arriving at its borders, but we should not forget the older people often left behind, unable to make the journey to safety. Attention must also be paid to fulfilling the needs and rights of these older people," said Michael Bünte, HelpAge Deutschland CEO.
The discussion resulted in MEPs identifying the need to build a structured dialogue to help the European Parliament support an effective response to population ageing within and outside the EU's borders.