After two years of a pandemic that took a heavy toll on the population and shook the economy in Europe and the world, we were hoping for some respite last year. But the Russian invasion of Ukraine came as a brutal clash with our peaceful reality, and its multiple consequences has put an increasing number of people in precarious situations. In the particularly gloomy socio-economic background, we continued to work to strengthen human rights, solidarity and equality in Europe and worldwide.
Looking at the dramatic impact of the war in Ukraine, we decided to join forces with our members and other civil society organisations at EU and international level notably to call for a better support to older refugees in and outside Ukraine (see our web page). We also monitored the impact of the energy crisis on older people in Europe and published a report based on the testimonies of our members, which shows how the rising inflation is exposing older people to a higher risk of poverty and social exclusion.
Beyond the specific situation linked to the war, we continued our advocacy for a more inclusive EU. With the release of the EU Care Strategy, long-term care has been at the center of our work, notably of our Annual Conference. We also build on our proposal for a European Age Equality Strategy and published a two-pagers as an additional tool to push this agenda.
The way forward is to work collectively towards effective solutions and advancement to guarantee a brighter future for all of us, including those in vulnerable situations. This is what AGE will continue to do this year building on the results of 2022.
Promoting age equality: strengthening our capacity to deliver
- Towards the European elections 2024
Building on our proposal for a European Age Equality Strategy, we will develop a Manifesto for the EU Elections 2024 together with our members. We will also prepare campaign material targeting both the EU and national level and strengthen our capacity to make sure we are equipped for 2024. The aim will be to get many MEPs to support our European strategy for age equality and to support the work of our members at national level.
A series of meetings with European Parliament candidates will also be organized as part of the MEET project in which we will be involved together with the European Youth Forum. The project will be kicked off in February.
As part of the new project COVID Resilience, we will also provide training to professionals and volunteers in Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina on how to engage with policy makers and advocating for policy change in the process of EU accession.
- Strengthening older people’s human rights globally
Our proposal for an EU Age Equality Strategy also explicitly calls for EU support to a United Nations’ Convention on the rights of older people. We will further promote this call, namely as part of the 13th Session of the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (UN OEWG) in April and through our campaigns #EULeadsTheRally and #AgeingEqual.
During the UN OEWG, we will also provide input on the gap in the right to health and access to healthcare services and social inclusion, the main topics of this year’s working group.
- Diversity in old age: new policy recommendations
We will take a closer look at the diverse situations of older people experiencing other grounds of discrimination: we will publish a joint policy paper on LGBTI older people together with ILGA-Europe, make recommendations on older persons with disabilities and on racism and hate speech as well as contribute to an online game against hate speech, racism and ageism (Smart for Diversity and Democracy and Smart Against Ageism), monitor the impact of the war on older people in Ukraine, analyze the gaps of the current EU gender equality strategy and, as part of our projects, collaborate with actors fighting violence against older women (MARVOW2.0 project, expected to start in April).
Equal participation in old age: obstacles and alternatives
- Sustainable working lives: our flasghip
Knowing the barriers is essential to develop solutions. We will provide evidence of obstacles to older people’s participation in the workplace and promote good practices in the 4th edition of our AGE Barometer and through the “Mentoring Across Borders” project starting in January.
Building on this new evidence, our Annual Conference on 9th June will engage with policy-makers on the topic of sustainable working lives in old age.
Businesses will be important allies in this journey towards age-friendly workplaces. We will work hand in hand with our corporate partners on developing the business case for age equality at work and promoting inspiring practices to fellow companies.
- Towards the implementation of quality long-term care
Following the publication by the European Commission last autumn of its EU Strategy on Care (read our article), we will work to monitor the work done at national level and build the capacity of member states to meet the EU recommendation on long-term care.
– for a new paradigm on care system which focus on a “Value-based integrated care”,
– on how integrated health and social ecosystems contribute to the sustainability of health and care systems across Europe and
– on the early detection of palliative care in Europe.
We will organize a workshop consulting policy makers and experts in the field of palliative care to co-develop the recommendations.
- Promoting accessibility and supportive environments
Equal participation requires accessibility. This is why we will continue being actively involved in the work of the European Central Bank to make sure the perspective of older consumers is adequately reflected in the financial and banking sector.
As part of the project Urbanage, we will organize a workshop on inclusive urban planning for age-friendly environment, gathering public authorities and older persons’ associations with the goal to foster future replication in other European regions and cities.
Through the new project SEE U which aims to train and empower older people to explore their neighbourhood with the help of digital tools, AGE will produce a European factsheet and co-developed a workshop concept to implement digital tours.
Last but not least, AGE will also be part of the development of an EU resource centre whose aim is to enable the practical implementation of European accessibility legislation by facilitating the availability of more accessible products, services and infrastructure in the EU.
Increasing our impact and visibility
Knowing that negative old age stereotypes are at the root of ageism and discrimination, we seek to convey in the way we communicate a non-biased image and discourse that better reflects the reality and diversity of older people’s lives. This in line with our short guide on non-stereotypical communication.
In 2023 we will further develop our communication activities and tools to strengthen the voice of older people and further contribute to this new narrative on ageing. To achieve this, we will give even more visibility to the work of our members and ‘refresh’ our branding and website.
This year’s agenda promises to be very busy. Let us hope that it will bring major advances towards a future where age does not matter.
We wish you all the best for 2023!