In this first briefing of the year, let’s take a brief stock of AGE work and achievements last year and look at what is ahead for 2018.
2017: enhancing human rights and joining forces for a more social Europe
2017 was another busy year for AGE. In line with our overall objectives to ensure equality for older people and promote their right to non-discrimination at European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) and Council of Europe (CoE) level, we pursued our work at EU and global levels, in particular through:
- our campaign against ageism and our cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) campaign ‘Stop Ageism’,
- our involvement in the promotion of older persons’ rights in the framework of the United Nations’ Open Ended Working Group on Ageing,
- our active involvement in the NGO joint campaign for a stronger EU Pillar of Social Rights and on this years’ European Semester,
- our support to a work-life balance directive that includes a right to carers’ leave,
- our mobilization together with the disability movement for a more ambitious European Accessibility Act.
AGE also worked on the issue of consumers’ rights in the context of growing Silver Economy and increasing digitalization of services including financial services, and on the issue of dignified ageing, in particular the promotion of quality standards for long-term care services based on a rights-based approach and the fight against elder abuse (view here AGE work in that area).
Two key publications were released to support our work on older people’s rights: ‘Older Persons’ Self-Advocacy Handbook’ and ‘Dignity and wellbeing of older persons in need of care’.
Our Annual Conference in June addressed the issue of inequalities and abuse in old age, while our General Assembly elected AGE new President, Ebbe Johansen ( DanAge, Denmark) and adopted AGE new strategy setting our priorities for the period 2018-2021 (read more here).
2018: strengthening the protection of the rights of older people and promoting their dignity
In the coming year we will keep working to ensure equality for older people using both existing legislations, tools and policy processes at European and global levels in order and calling for new UN legislation to:
- ensure that older women and men’s rights are respected,
- improve awareness of EU and international laws protecting older people’s rights and voice their concerns at EU, United Nations and Council of Europe levels,
- promote a positive image of older persons to combat ageism, and
- support equal opportunities for all through the promotion of age-friendly environments.
Using the ‘bottom-up approach’, our action will also seek to empower older people across Europe to take a more active part in any relevant socio-economic and societal debates, in particular to influence positions of national authorities on European dossiers that have an impact on older people’s lives. We will continue to advocate for concrete actions and initiatives to fulfill the commitment national governments took when they proclaimed the EU Pillar of Social Rights on 17 November 2017. Indeed, many of the 20 rights/principles formulated in the Pillar of Social Rights are of direct relevance to older people, such as the right to work-life balance, the right to quality long-term care or the right to adequate old-age income. We will therefore continue monitoring policy developments in relation to the proposed rights/principles and pledge in favor of a new and ambitious EU social agenda post 2020 linked to the Social Pillar.
Our 2018 Annual Conference and General Assembly, scheduled on 6-8 June, will cover the issues of autonomy and independence defined as the right to self-determination. Discussion will also focus on other two topics of the upcoming 9th session of the United Nations’ Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on Ageing in July: Autonomy & independence and Long-term & palliative care.
Ahead of the elections of the European Parliament and renewal of the Commission in 2019, we will campaign to ensure that age discrimination will receive equal attention in EU and national political groups’ manifestos as other grounds of discrimination, and will become a work priority in DG Justice’s future work programme. All along 2018 we will empower our members to get actively engaged in the preparation of the next European Parliament elections. Our campaign will be underpinned by the drafting of AGE EP elections manifesto that will also be used by our member organisations at national level.
Finally, AGE will continue to be actively involved in EU research projects covering a vast range of ageing-related issues. Our participation in research project is underpinned by the principle of co-creation, promoting older people’s involvement in the design and development of initiatives and products of relevance to their lives.
In 2018, four new projects have been added to our list of projects:
– The EuroAgeism Marie-Curie project on ageism launched in September 2017, which focuses on harmonising different theoretical and methodological disciplines in the field of ageism, bringing together science and policy. The project will allow graduates of the program to capture positions as scientists, educators, science advisers, policy advocates, lobbyists, or legislators in the field of ageism. In the next 3 years, AGE will train, lecture and supervise secondments of PhD students on the topic.
– Three new Horizon2020 projects have been granted and represent new opportunities to work on policies and research in 2018:
- Strongly connected to the EIP AHA, the WE4AHA project will advance the effective uptake and impact of Digital Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing, building on a comprehensive set of support and promotion services. AGE will help reviewing existing roadmaps and policies on digital innovation, in connection with the EIP AHA.
- The NESTORE project will develop a technological friend and coach able to maximize the overall wellbeing and health status of people, considering also seniors’ social dimension. AGE will support the whole co-design phases, involving older people directly in the project also at pilot site level.
- The MATUROLIFE project wants to get rid of unsightly and stigmatizing pieces of technologies (e.g. wearing alarms and tracking devices around the arm or neck) often resulting in high abandonment rates. The project will better integrate electronics and sensors into fabrics and textiles, thus giving fashion designers and artists the tools to produce assistive technologies for older people that are not only functional but also more desirable and appealing while being lighter and more comfortable.
You can visit our project page to learn more about our current 15 European projects: https://www.age-platform.eu/age-projects and do not hesitate to contact the Secretariat (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get directly involved in our project activities.
In short, AGE policy and research activities will, this year again, work to support the key objective of the European Union of making the demographic challenge in Europe an opportunity for both social and economic developments, while respecting older person’s human rights and dignity… a prerequisite for any social progress in our ageing societies.
AGE and its members wish you all a happy and fruitful year 2018!