1st October: AGE members celebrate older people’s participation and defend equity – both online and offline!

Whether it is to secure access to the digital world or to combat ageism, older people around Europe widely celebrated the International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) this year again. And the International Day was the occasion to celebrate older people back!

Meaningful participation must be accessible online

  • In Belgium, Énéo used the theme of the 2021 international day “Digital Equity for All Ages” to explain the causes and impact of digital divide and list regional initiatives to tackle digital exclusion in older age.
  • In Slovenia, ZDUS shared recent statistics revealing that more than half of Slovenia’s older population uses the internet. But the association also notes great disparity depending on the level of education and gender.
  • In Spain, UDP Mayores recalled that personal autonomy remains a right in the digital world. To enjoy this right, we must build inclusive and friendly digital worlds.
  • In Sweden, SPF Seniorerna seized the momentum of the International Day to recommend three measures to ensure digital equity:
    • higher pensions and financial support for purchasing digital tools;
    • bigger investments in senior education and assistance in need of support;
    • greater consideration for those who do not want to use the internet: Alternatives should always exist.

As Sweden is one of the world’s most digitized countries, digital inclusion is one of the SPF Seniors priority issues. The organisation has produced a report to draw attention to the hundreds of thousands of seniors who are unable, unwilling, or can’t afford to participate in the digital world. The report is based on a survey of SPF members’ attitudes to the digital society.

  • In the UK, the Civil Service Pensioners’ Alliance (CPSA) has launched a quick survey on social media enquiring about the biggest challenge in engaging older people to get online. The issue of security won the vote among four options.

Against ageism, older people ask for better protection of our rights

  • In Germany, BAGSO called on the newly elected members of the Bundestag to improve the legal protection of older people and stop age discrimination. The German National Association of Senior Citizens’ Organisations asked for:
    • access to professional or voluntary activities that does not depend on age;
    • effective and preventive protection mechanisms to better protect older people from violence in Germany and internationally;
    • a clear commitment of the parliamentary groups in the German Bundestag to a UN convention on the rights of older people.
  • In Spain, the call for a UN convention on older people’s rights is also reiterated by a coalition of organisations among which our members: CEOMA, Fundación 26 Diciembre, the Red Cross, and UDP Mayores. According to the signatories, a convention would compensate for the current gaps of existing legislation and would guarantee the rights and dignity of older people, in their diversity.

The call for a UN convention echoes various reports denouncing the age-based stereotypes and discrimination that still prevail today.

  • In Belgium, Respect Senior flagged the prevalence of ageism in our behaviour, and how it leads us to forget that we remain adults and capable in older age. Only by changing the way we look at and think about older age will we be able to prevent the many forms of mistreatment in later life.
  • In Spain, UDP Mayores pointed out the deep structural crisis in the long-term care revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lack of adequate responses to protect older people’s rights. These result from pervasive ageism. The NGO calls for the rights of older people to become a priority issue of public authorities.

Millions of older people recognized for their contributions

  • In Germany, HelpAge Deutschland was awarded the “Courage-Preis” on 1st October, for their special contribution to the human rights and human dignity in old age.
  • In the Netherlands, KBO-PCOB recalled that 43% of the six million over-50s (meaning about 2.5 million people) do voluntary work for around 7.4 hours a week.
  • In Portugal, Apre! highlighted the essential role that older people play in promoting their own supporting their community, and fostering intergenerational exchange of experiences and knowledge.
  • In Spain, the Red Cross pointed out that lifelong learning and participation are part of our quality of life and that we must learn from older people’s contributions to build on their experience and lead the way forward.

While many older people’s organisations are run by volunteers, several members of AGE took the opportunity of IDOP to shed light on them.

It was the case in Spain where Nagusilan, as it celebrated its 25th anniversary, thanked all its volunteers and paid tribute to the essential contributions made by older people towards the development of more caring and cohesive society.

For more information about IDOP, visit:

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