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This year’s International Day of Older Persons, observed on 1 October 2023, holds special significance as it coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As we commemorate this important day, it is crucial to reflect on the challenges faced by older persons worldwide and renew our commitment to protecting their dignity and rights.

One of the key issues that older persons encounter is ageism, which is rampant in societies across the globe. This discriminatory practice undermines the contributions and value that older individuals bring to our communities. It is high time we address this issue and work towards creating a society that values and respects our senior citizens.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the vulnerabilities faced by older persons. They have often been among the first victims of this crisis, facing higher risks of severe illness and mortality. It is imperative that we prioritize their safety and well-being in our response to the pandemic and in our efforts to build back better.

However, it is not just during times of crisis that we need to focus on the rights of older persons. Poverty, climate emergencies, and other challenges also disproportionately affect them. To truly realize the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we must address these issues as a human rights imperative.

It is important to recognize that older persons are not merely passive recipients of care but are invaluable sources of knowledge and experience. They have a wealth of wisdom to share and can make significant contributions towards peace, sustainable development, and protecting our planet.

In order to harness the potential of older persons, we must ensure their active engagement, full participation, and essential contributions. This can be achieved by implementing social and workplace policies that are specifically designed to address their needs and promote their inclusion.

Lifelong learning is key to unlocking the potential of older persons. By providing opportunities for continued education and skill development, we empower them to continue growing and contributing to society. Quality healthcare is also essential to ensure their well-being and enable them to lead fulfilling lives.

Furthermore, digital inclusion is vital in today’s interconnected world. Access to technology and the internet can enhance the lives of older persons, enabling them to stay connected with loved ones, access information, and engage in various activities.

Lastly, fostering intergenerational dialogue and unity is crucial. By promoting understanding and cooperation between different age groups, we can bridge the generation gap and create a more harmonious society.

On this International Day of Older Persons, let us come together to build more inclusive and age-friendly societies. By recognizing the rights and contributions of older persons, we can create a more resilient world for all.

by Dr. Abdalla Sharief, UNCAV, President.

by Dr. Abdalla Sharief – UNCAV President – UN

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