Protecting older women against neglect, abuse and violence

Protecting older women against neglect, abuse and violence (UN Photo/John Isaac)

Studies paint a bleak global picture on the human rights of older women, who suffer from multiple forms of discrimination based on age and gender. To address this issue, the UN Focal Point on Ageing within DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD), arranged an Expert Group Meeting on Neglect, Abuse and Violence of Older Women on 5-7 November.

“Research points to inadequate protections at both the national and international levels but also notes that older women are even more invisible and overlooked in society,” said Daniela Bas, Director of DSPD, as she opened the meeting at UN Headquarters in New York.

Ms. Bas talked in general about the challenges faced by an ever growing older population, but she also highlighted the fact that the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing adopted in 2002, singles out older women to “face greater risk of physical and psychological abuse due to discriminatory societal attitudes and the non-realization of the human rights of women.”

Ms. Bas underscored the important opportunity that the meeting offered in framing the debate on this topic, especially in view of the work of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing for the Purpose of Strengthening the Protection of the Human Rights of Older Persons, which also met earlier this year.

Gathering experts from Asia, Africa, Europe and North America, the event identified potential risk factors to neglect, abuse and violence against older women. It also assessed existing approaches to prevention and intervention. In its concluding session, experts suggested means to frame the debate on this topic and they also proposed a way forward.

The meeting was also attended by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) New York Office, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Women, DESA’s Statistics Division and the New York Office of the UN Regional Commission.

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