On 29th April we will be celebrating the EU Day of Solidarity between Generations, launched for the first time in 2009. The successive crises that we have been through over the recent years have made the issue more topical than ever, reminding us how critical intergenerational cooperation and solidarity is in an increasingly divided and unequal society.
“Ageing of population is no longer only a matter of us, old people. We have to take advantage of the potential of the intergenerational cooperation with the young for the benefit of all social groups.” – Janez, Slovenia
“For me every individual is unique, and connection is the continual learning from each-other.” – Georgia, Greece
Intergenerational solidarity to fight ageism
The widespread ageism and negative attitudes towards certain age groups are dividing people of different generations and creating barriers to their full inclusion and participation. Ageism affects both younger and older people. The stereotyping of age groups hinders relations between generations and pits people of different ages against each other with harmful consequences both for individuals and for society, as we explained in our Ageing Equal blog. At societal level, ageism prevents us to think and design policies and welfare services that adopt a life-course approach and are fair for all ages.
“To reduce ageism, it might be helpful to reanimate and connect younger and older generations. The intergenerational projects have a potential to fight over this never-ending stigma.” – Tomaž, Slovenia
The best way to combat ageism is to support intergenerational solidarity and cooperation. Fostering regular interaction among people from different age groups can help break down stereotypes, enhancing awareness of the diversity of situations within an age group and of the common challenges being faced.
MEPs call for more inclusive language
The language we use also plays a part in strengthening ageism and age stereotypes. This is why, ahead of the EU Day of Solidarity between Generations, members of the Interest group on solidarity between generations of the European Parliament have signed a joint letter, in which they call on their peers to be more respectful towards older persons in their institutional language.
In the letter initiated by Slovenian MEP Milan Brglez, the MEPs calls for using the terms ‘older persons’ instead of ‘the elderly’, which is a mass noun that obscures the individual, their rights, diverse stories, preferences and needs. “It is used to split age groups, creating the impression that ‘the elderly’ and ‘the young’ are distinct in their rights, contributions and aspirations.” Rather, language should support interaction and promote participation in society.
Read more in our article.
Intergenerational solidarity for more resilient societies
As demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, valuing and supporting the contribution of all generations will accelerate solutions and efforts in addressing the many current and future societal challenges and building sustainable, fair, cohesive and resilient communities.
“If we want to build a resilient EU, we cannot continue to consider older people as passive individuals in need of protection, but as rights holders, who are able to cope and adapt to shocks. Older people have transferrable skills and knowledge that should be passed on to the next generations”, states our colleague, Apolline Parel in an article for Population Europe.
AGE is involved in a new EU-funded project, kicked off last March : FutuRes brings together a transdisciplinary group of experts to identify policies aimed to build crisis resilience for our following generations.
For more information on FutuRes, you can contact Apolline Parel: firstname.lastname@example.org
Intergenerational solidarity in future EU policies: joint Manifesto
The upcoming European elections in 2024 will be the occasion to further raise awareness on the need to promote age diversity and integrate intergenerational approaches in EU policies for the benefit of all of us.
This is the objective of the new EU-funded project MEET (Mobilise Europe = Engaging Together) led by the European Youth Forum (YFJ) in cooperation with AGE.
The project aims to put intergenerational solidarity at the heart of the European debate in the context of the upcoming EU elections. Together with the YFJ, we are drafting a joint intergenerational declaration, which will serve as a tool for the next 2 years of advocacy at the local and European level. It will also be taken up by younger and older citizens to raise awareness around the benefits of intergenerational solidarity to policy makers and rally candidates for the European Parliament elections to their causes.
In this declaration, different generations bring forward the message that shared values and interests between generations create a supportive friendship and understanding, regardless of age. This common understanding is facilitated by opportunities to meet, interact and collaborate. Past and present experiences are shaped both by our own choices but also by wider social and economic circumstances, including ageism and other forms of discrimination, which hamper the equal enjoyment of all human rights at all ages.
Older and younger citizens would like to advocate the importance of intergenerational dialogue, understanding and connection at all levels in society, which allows for a better appreciation of current issues while ensuring better decisions for the future.
This is why we join forces to call on the European Parliament to foster initiatives that will:
- protect the rights of people living in Europe at any age,
- respect the dignity and autonomy across the life course as prerequisites to effective and meaningful participation in society,
- leave no one behind.
With this declaration we “Younger and Older citizens of Europe” would like to highlight the potential of intergenerational dialog and bring the issue to the European debate, while fostering democracy at local level. This declaration will be used in the 15 festivals to be organised in 15 countries in Europe gathering younger and older citizens together with policy makers and others relevant stakeholders to raise the case for intergenerational solidarity.
For more information on the MEET project, you can contact Marine Luc: mailto:email@example.com
Some upcoming events
- The Semaine de l’Intergénération is organised by our Belgian member Entr’âges from 23 to 29 Apri 2023.
- Démantelons l’âgisme is an online workshop organised in French by the “Francophones uni·e·s face à l’âgisme” – FUFA, on 27 April 2023.
- The Global Intergenerational Week will bring together 15 countries and cover a different topics every day from 24 to 30 April 2023.