Creating awareness for the rights of older persons

Elderly Eskimo woman (Un Photo/Shelley Rotner)

The second working session of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing with the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons took place from 1-4 August in New York. Member States and Civil Society Organizations made numerous statements expressing their views on the current situation of the human rights of older persons around the world.

In addition, various panel discussions took place, which focused on discrimination, right to health, violence and abuse against older persons, social protection and exclusion.

The precarious situation of widows in Tanzania was highlighted by Teresa Minja: “Widowhood profoundly changes the status of women in Tanzania and undermines their security. Customary laws deny widows the right to inherit common matrimonial assets. For older widows, discrimination compounds the effects of a lifetime of poverty and gender discrimination. This can result in extreme impoverishment and isolation”.

Salvacion Basiano from the Philippines talked about community organizing with older persons: “Advocating for major issues of older people brought to the society’s consciousness our plight and engaged the government to respond favourably…..Now, a number of Congressmen and Senators have filed bills seeking to protect senior citizens from abuse.”

“We need to make a benefit of age – it should be a benefit, not a burden“, said Oldrich Stanek, addressing social exclusion from a Czech perspective.

The Open-ended Working Group discussed existing international frameworks on human rights, identified gaps and how to address them and considered the feasibility of further instruments and measures.

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