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Recently on Twitter, one of our followers asked if there was a resource for global age-friendly cities.  Well now there is! A new website has been launched this week to showcase the Age-friendly world.

Organized by the World Health Organization and International Federation on Ageing (IFA) this e-portal will become a central resources for developing, maintaining and improving Age-friendly cities.

This site is aimed at the general public and is free and easy to use, learn, share and discuss.  Just register and join a group that interests you.

The site sheds light on facts and figures, news-worthy updates, and allows you to engAGE in dialogue and discussions on any topic of interest.

For example, did you know that WHO Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities has 103 members across 18 countries worldwide?  This site is a great means of keeping up-to-date on what’s going on across borders. What better way to help the elderly than by sharing ideas and insights.

Check out the new site and start a discussion. http://www.agefriendlyworld.org/

Sister Cities of LOS ANGELES

[Photo Credit: prayitno, Flickr]

Jimmy Carter with his grandson Hugo

[Photo Credit: The Elders, Flickr]

Next week, William (Bill) T. Smith of Aging in America will attend the Open Ended Working Group 3rd session  in New York on behalf of IAHSA, where the Committee on Ageing will be presenting to the government delegations, a list of nearly 100 endorsements on a call to action.  IAHSA is one of the many organizations who has signed this call.  The supporting organizations are suggesting ways the OEWG on Ageing can strengthen human rights instruments to better protect and promote older people’s rights.

The goals of this action plan include:

  • Providing governments with a legal framework, guidance and support
  • Having the capacity to address emerging concerns
  • Guiding human rights organizations and civil society

Here are 10 reasons why we need to act to protect the rights of older people:

1- The Number of older people worldwide is growing at an unprecedented pace.

2- There is no dedicated protection regime for older people’s rights.

3- There are clear gaps in protections available to older people in existing human rights standards.

4- Older people’s rights are neglected in the current human rights framework.

5- Age discrimination and ageism are widely tolerated across the world.

6- Older people are highly vulnerable to abuse, deprivation and exclusion.

7- Older people hold rights but are often treated with charity instead of as rights holders.

8- National protections of older people’s rights are inconsistent.

9- Respect for older people’s rights benefits society as a whole.

10- Older people are an. increasingly powerful group.

 

Let’s work together towards building a consensus around the human rights of older persons!

[This list was written by HelpAge International along with papers prepared for the meeting. For more information, please visit www.helpage.org ]

The Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, adopted in April 2002, marked a turning point in how the world looked at ageing.  The report had delineated guidelines for policy development and implementation, made suggestions for mainstreaming ageing issues into government agendas, and helped promote dialogue in the information exchange.

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the Division for Social Policy and Development (DSDP) have been focusing on social development issues including ageing, disability, employment, social integration and social protection, as a means to implement the Madrid Plan.

After 10 years of implementation, DESA and DSDP are conducting a questionnaire to assess the need for support and servicing in order to facilitate agreement on international standards and resolutions.

With your help and experience, the Departments can strengthen their work while considering the challenges you face in your hard work and dedication to ageing care.

Organizations sometimes overlook participation in such opportunities because it is hard to feel the impact on the ground, in the every-day care giving.  However, with every bit of input and recommendations from experts in the field, the UN can help improve the use of information and communication, and fulfill their role in the international arena.

On October 1, organizations around the globe will celebrate the UN International Day of Older People, bringing countries together to share their achievements, raise awareness and support communities. For instance, HelpAge International will be running a campaign “Age Demands Action” to help celebrate this day.  October 1 will be both a celebration of Old People, and a celebration of our accomplishments over the last ten years.

To Participate:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ngo-questionnaire-csocd

Due: September 17, 2012

Questions: Contact Mr. Amine Lamrabat at ngo@un.org and Ms. Nan Jiang at jiang2n@un.org

Unisphere

[Photo Credit: *Muhammad*, Flickr]

UNECE has created a research publication to analyze the ageing situation in Eastern European countries, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Among these is the June 2012 release of the Roadmap for Mainstreaming Ageing in Moldova, produced in conjunction with the Republic of Moldova.

The first of such reports was on Armenia in 2011.

These reports are based on available publications, documents and data. The hope of this and future Roadmaps is to improve the integration of older persons in society, social, cultural and political life and promote their well being.  It is also anticipated that these projects will help change the image of ageing.

The report focus areas include:

  • Integration and participation of older persons
  • Social protection
  • Health
  • Housing and independent living
  • Education
  • Labour market
  • Gender
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Involvement of stakeholders
  • Outreach and public awareness‐raising
  • Research and data collection
  • Integration into international processes

The Roadmap is a great introduction for other countries to look internally and assess their own situation at home.  For Moldova, the Roadmap provides a structured way forward with goals, timelines and action plans.

Recommendations from this report which may be useful to other countries to encourage their own review and development include:

  • creation and support for volunteering programs
  • access to transportation in rural areas
  • providing self-help networks for older generations

“A state having a lot of old people does not mean a society composed of inactive people, consuming only the resources, but on the contrary, there is the need to reconsider the manpower of old people, to value their professional life and experience, both, for their families and for economic activity or/and the community” says Valentina Buliga, Moldova’s Minister of Labor.

IMG_1899

[Credit: Aurelian Săndulescu, Flickr]

On Thursday, July 26, 2012 the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will continue considering the social and human rights questions on how to engage more constructive participation by Member States during their meeting in New York.

From 23-27 July, 2012 ECOSOC’s primary focus of the General Segment will be to discuss the state of world affairs in the field of development.  Item 14 on the agenda, Social and Human Rights, will tackle the report from the High Commissioner for Human Rights on human rights of older persons.

In April 2012, the UNHCHR issued a report (E/2012/51) in 6 UN languages on the human rights of older persons.  The report concluded that powerful advocacy efforts are needed for a new convention.  The Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) was established to strengthen the protection of the human rights of older persons and continues to make headway.

The OEWG will then have their third substantive session on 1-4 August 2012 in New York.

Per the April UNHCHR report:

“64. The situation of older persons presents a number of particular and urgent human rights challenges…each posing a set of issues that deserves in-depth analysis and regulation.

66. Current arrangements at the national and international level to protect the human rights of older persons are inadequate. Dedicated measures to strengthen the international protection regime for older persons are called for without further delay.”

The second working session discussed five topics, namely, discrimination and multiple discrimination; right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; violence and abuse; social protection and the right to social security; and age and social exclusion.

We look forward to a positive third session and encourage NGOs to help the OEWG advocate for the rights of older persons.

 
Flags in front of UN Headquarters

[credit: USAID_images]

Today the Pan American Health Organization hosted a symposium on health ageing. With speakers from the Americas including Argentina, Mexico and the United States, the event  highlighted the importance of social connectedness and support across the lifespan. Speakers including Dr Luciano Di Cesare, Dr Linda Fried, and Dr Michael Hodin spoke on the importance of facing the social stigma associated with old age in order to be able to actively address health behaviors across the lifespan and promote a new vision of old age. Check out the video message from Dr. Mirta Roses Periago on the PAHO website.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius addresses delegates.

World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April to mark the anniversary of the founding of WHO in 1948. The day provides an opportunity to start collective action on a single global health challenge and to engage everyone in finding solutions that benefit us all. The topic of World Health Day in 2012 is Ageing and Health with the theme “Good health adds life to years”.  Join this panel discussion aimed at addressing public health challenges associated with ageing populations and to providing recommendations and strategies to address them. The event will also contribute to the deliberations of the “UN General Assembly open-ended working group on ageing”. The panel briefing will be held Wednesday, 4 April, 2012  from 1:15 to 2:30 p.m.

Speakers will include:

• H.E Mr. Mateo Estreme, Deputy Permanent Representative of Argentina to the UN “Update on the UN Working group on Ageing”
• Dr. Jacob Kumaresan, Executive Director, WHO Office at the UN “Policy options for healthy ageing”
• Dr. Simin Nikbin Meydani, Director, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Ageing, Tufts University. “Nutrition policies for healthy ageing”
• Ms. Jessica Frank Lopez, Chair, United Nations NGO Committee on Ageing “Current advocacy challenges and priorities”
• Ms. Linda I. Gibbs, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, NYC “Age-friendly cities”

The event will be held in the  ECOSOC Chamber, North Lawn Building at the United Nations Headquarters.  Light refreshments will be served. Interested in attending? RSVP to WHD@whoun.org or to Katherine Morfesis, Tel: (646) 626-6060

This past Monday, July 25, 2011, IAHSA joined the International Federation on Ageing and other non-governmental organizations in the ageing field to brief the U.S. Congress.  The briefing aimed to inform, stimulate interest and provide a mechanism through which further dialogue could occur to strengthen the rights of older people.  During our time before Congress, internationally respected academics, advocates, practitioners and human rights lawyers called for the full recognition of the rights of older people through the use of existing national legislation and encouraged the U.S. to actively participate in discussions about the need for a new international human rights instrument for older adults.

Speaking on behalf of IAHSA, Dr. William T. Smith said that while older persons are identified as being the foundation of our societies, they are frequently overlooked in the twilight of their years due to the many competing demands that governments must address.  There are many in our country, he said, that would say that older persons have “paid their dues” and are “entitled” to the services afforded by various programs.  Unfortunately “entitlement” has become a word with many negative connotations in the United States, he concluded.

Mr. Edward Ryan, speaking for AARP, stated that people everywhere have the right to secure living conditions that enable each one to age with fair recognition, respect, dignity and purpose.  He further asserted that “we cannot ignore the injustice of discrimination against people after they reach a particular stage of life or cross an imaginary line defining a person as old, then look at her or him as being different from what they were and create a basis to dismiss from employment or deny adequate insurance or quality health care.” Mr Ryan concluded by stating that  “AARP requests American leadership support for an international and universal human rights instrument that would help to obligate governments to provide, protect and help older persons to surmount their challenges to a quality of life with economic security, good health, social inclusion, family cohesion and safety that all human beings should have as a right.”

Ms Irene Hoskins, President of the International Federation on Ageing explained that “while the rights of older people are embedded in international human rights conventions reaffirming economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights, these international instruments are are not specific to older people.”

Take a few minutes to see slideshow below, which includes the pictures of our briefing this past Monday and share your thoughts with IAHSA.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

U.S. Capitol

This Monday, 25 July 2011, IAHSA will join the International Federation on Ageing and other ageing organization to participate in a briefing to the U.S. Congress before the Special Committee on Aging of the United States Senate.  The briefing aims to inform the U.S. Congress on the rights and protections granted to older adults by international human rights conventions, to stimulate interest and provide a mechanism through which further dialogue can occur to strengthen the rights of older people.

By 2040, the planet will be home to more older people than children for the first time in history.  Yet, during this period of unprecedented demographic change, social, civil and political rights rights have been embedded in international treaties and conventions, but have not been made specific to older people.  As a result, many older adults experience discrimination and violation of rights at the family, community and institutional level.  Our message to the U.S. Senate will focus on the fact that rights do not change as we age, but that what does change, is that older men and women are considered to be inherently less valuable to society creating more dependency on others and loss of autonomy.

IAHSA’s participation in the briefing will be titled The Rights of Older People “in Care” and led by Dr. William T. Smith. This briefing will be open to the public and all IAHSA members are encouraged to attend.

Monday, 25 July, 2011
2:00 – 3:30pm
Room 562, Dirksen Senate Office Building
U.S. Capitol Complex
Washington, DC, USA

Raising the South Sudan Flag, from Reuters

In just under an hour, South Sudan will officially become the world’s newest independent state.  For many, independence will fulfill a decades-long dream and the culmination a struggle that began shortly after Sudan’s independence from the United Kingdom.  However, there are still many challenges ahead for both the country and its older adults.

At independence, South Sudan will likely emerge as one of the youngest countries in the world.  While statistics are hard to come by, the region is among the poorest in the world, has very little access to healthcare and housing, has been plagued by years of civil war, and is  currently in the mists of both on-going border clashes and a drought that is having devastating effects across Eastern Africa.  None of these conditions encourage living to old age.   In fact, a BBC picture report states that, “anyone over the age of 50 is considered old” and that many older South Sudanese struggle to feed themselves and their grandchildren. 

The Southern Sudan Older People’s Organization (SSOPO), a local NGO that cares for the aged, identifies prevailing “negative attitudes,” together with “poverty, poor housing, lack of adequate food and nutrition and physical disabilities” as leading to widespread suffering among the country’s older adults.  It adds that the facts that “the government has no policy to cater the needs of [older] people” and the “lack of active older activists” as further complicating the situation.

IAHSA hopes that South Sudan’s independence serves as an opportunity to bring peace to the region, and to improve the daily lives of South Sudan’s older adults and society at large. While likely taking several years or decades, improvements in public health, housing, sanitation and prosperity will likely result in the gradual ageing of South Sudan’s population.  Ageing can thus serve as a signal that independence has benefited the people of South Sudan.

For more information:

AlertNet

The Economist

The Associated Press

BBC News

About this blog

IAHSA’s Global Ageing Network Blog was created because of you!! We got your message loud and clear – “Provide us with a quick and nimble communications vehicle so we can stay connected and create community across borders".

Questions? Email us at iahsa@leadingage.org.

Authors

Virginia Nuessle, Study Tour Director

Majd Alwan, Director, CAST

Alla Rubinstein, Program Administrator, IAHSA

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