Photo by Gregor Fischer / re:republica
After two challenging years where the COVID-19 pandemic seriously undermined older people’s human rights, we can only hope that 2022 will open new horizons to build the cohesive and resilient society that we need. Today more than ever.
2021 saw some important developments for older people at EU level, namely with the launch of the EU Green Paper on Ageing triggering off a wider reflection on ageing in Europe. At AGE, as we celebrated the 20th anniversary of our network in June…
- we further worked to reinforce the capacity of our members to raise their voice at national, EU and UN level, and agreed on renewed common priorities for the next 4 years.
- we also produced key policy documents outlining our proposal for an EU Age Equality Strategy, our vision of long-term care and our views on the right to work in old age.
- the 3rd edition of the AGE Barometer collected comments and evidence from AGE members on the broad issue of older people’s participation in society.
- Finally, improving participation and inclusion was also the topic of our campaign Lead With Us run on the occasion of the International Day of Older People on 1 October.
This year, in line with our strategic objectives 2022-2025, we will build on the momentum created by the consultation on the Green Paper on Ageing to change the discourse on ageing and ensure that older people have equal opportunities to live life to the fullest and are empowered to contribute to and benefit from the development of our societies.
In particular, we will ensure that the recovery strategies from the pandemic at national and EU level addresses the socio-economic challenges and structural gaps that prevent the full potential of population ageing from being realised. The robustness of social protection systems to provide adequate support as we age, the inclusiveness of the labour market and the age-friendly digital transition will be among the key areas where AGE will make its voice heard to present the needs and expectations of older people. In working toward these goals, we will build on our achievements of the last two decades to promote equal opportunities for all ages.
Our work will be organised around three pillars:
- Promoting age equality in all EU activities
- Ensuring equal participation and autonomy of older people
- Raising the voice of older people experiencing multiple discrimination
Promoting age equality in all EU activities
As the older population is growing across Europe and worldwide, ensuring our societies give genuine equal opportunities for participation and inclusion at all stages of life has become more critical than ever.
- Advocate for equal rights in old age
Adopting a EU Age Equality Strategy would help set the tone and reaffirm EU value of non-discrimination and human rights for all. This is all the more necessary as we know that, while we are living longer, age remains the most reported ground for discrimination in the EU. We are convinced that the European Union is in a unique position to set a high level of ambition and a positive tone on ageing and older people to inspire the reforms that Member States will carry out to seize all the opportunities of an ageing population. However, given the current position of the European Commission not to present a white paper on ageing or a specific strategy on age equality, we will advocate other actions to integrate demographic and equality aspects into all relevant EU policies.
- Deepen the discussion on human rights of older people at the United Nations
This year will see the 12th session of the United Nations Open-Ended Working Group on strengthening the protection of human rights of older persons. UN member States, non-governmental organisations such as AGE and UN agencies will discuss new topics relevant to the rights of older persons: the contribution of older persons to sustainable development, and economic security of older persons. These discussion areas add on the normative discussions of last years’ topics: the right to access the labour market and the right to access justice.
We will draw on our network of members to actively contribute again, but we will also call on the EU and its Member States to step up their involvement in the discussions and take a leading role. We cannot continue to discuss the rights of older persons in the same manner as before the pandemic, which has openly exposed the lack of protection of many older persons’ rights. This was already the aim of our #EULeadsTheRally campaign last year, which we will continue in 2022.
- Influence the renewal of national commitments in the Madrid International Plan for Action on Ageing (MIPAA)
We will accompany the process of revising the MIPAA Regional Implementation Strategy for Europe and the national commitments on ageing policies for the next cycle of the Plan in 2022-2027. From the beginning of our involvement in the MIPAA process, we have advocated for using the potential of the Plan to strengthen the approach of national governments to ageing policies by embedding it in human rights. Therefore, our efforts will continue along this objective and will focus on the Ministerial Conference in Rome in June, which will mark the 20th anniversary of MIPAA and where our governments will renew their commitment to produce comprehensive strategies and policies on ageing. In addition, we will actively participate in the preparation of a joint NGO-researchers policy forum that will take place on 16 June, the day before the Ministerial Conference.
- Increase capacities to apply the principle of age equality and capture realities of discrimination
Mainstreaming human rights in ageing policies is an approach AGE has been advocating for several years. In 2022, we will sustain the efforts and develop advocacy trainings with AGE members and external partners and stakeholders. We will be addressing age equality and work against ageism also through European and national projects. In particular we will be partnering with our member, the Red Cross of Serbia and other associations for “Strengthening resilience of older persons and persons with disabilities during COVID-19 and future disasters” (the so-called ECE POP project). We will also be working closely with our new member Fondation I2LM in its project about Ageism in the Gard. Specifically on ageism, we will also deliver an intuitive game to challenge ageism via the Erasmus+ project “Smart Against Ageism” (SAA).
Ensuring equal participation and autonomy of older people
- A new vision of long-term care
As we highlight in our newly published Position Paper on long-term care, we need care systems that support each of us to remain full members of society, no matter our age.
Our vision of long-term care is the result of an internal reflection process carried out with AGE members in 2021. We will pursue the work with the aim to build a lasting coalition of stakeholders sharing our vision and to influence the EU Care Strategy announced by the European Commission.
This common vision of care for older people, rooted in empowerment and autonomy, will also guide us in the different EU-funded research projects we are involved in. The InAdvance project, will develop evidence-based policy recommendations for the provision of early palliative care. The ValueCare project will continue to investigate what matters the most to older patients in terms of integrated and personalized care. Moreover, AGE will publish a deliverable on “Empowerment of Older Individuals in Health and Care Decision-making”, issued by the European project SHAPES, and will foster our vision of long-term care at the SHAPES dialogue workshop on up-scaling integrated care.
When rooting for the practical participation of older people in the society, the Dreamlike Neighbourhood project will leverage on individual talents and collective synergies to design and shape communities for all.
- Non-discrimination in employment
This year, we will collect good practices in the field of employment and digital skills learning, and on combatting ageism and inequalities in the workplace as a first step towards our 2023 AGE Barometer. Shifting from a one-year cycle to a two-year cycle, we hope to be able to dig deeper into interesting practices that we can promote as part of the Barometer. This way, we will be able to meaningfully update the research we have made on employment challenges to older workers as part of the 2019 Barometer edition.
Furthermore, we will accompany the discussions and adoptions on the recent Commission initiatives on life-long learning and the individual learning account, as these correspond to our vision of building sustainable labour markets at all ages.
- Participate in the digital revolution
Digitalization has the potential to improve everyone’s quality of living, across the lifespan. Yet, it also risks perpetuating existing inequalities and threatening autonomy and participation, especially for people aged 50+. In 2022 we will keep on striving for a right-based approach to digitalization for the benefit of our ageing societies. We will keep on highlighting some barriers to a true digital revolution, such as ageism and the lack of accessibility, affordability, and availability of tools and services in older age.
Through various EU-funded projects, such as e-VITA, Urbanage, Pharaon and SHAPES, AGE will root for more inclusive societies, also through the use of digital technologies. Via the Erasmus+ project FAITh (Feeling Safe to Transact Online in the Third Age), we will deliver a Digital Mentors tutorial to make online transaction more accessible to older people.
Raising the voice of older people experiencing multiple discrimination
We will continue to raise the voice of older people experiencing multiple discrimination, with a focus on older women, older people with disabilities and older LGBTQI people. Beyond mainstreaming of multiple discrimination in our advocacy work, we plan to:
- Conduct a gap analysis of the European Gender Equality Strategy from an ageing perspective.
- Focus on older people with disabilities in the light of the EU Disability Rights Strategy and the EU Care initiative.
- Develop mutual learning with our members and relevant stakeholders on older LGBTQI people and gather experiences of discrimination.
Via the European project Smart for Democracy and Diversity, we will perform desk research on measures to fight racism and hate speech at political and associational level, and we will be selecting good practices on political measures, on activities of social and educational associations, and on grass-root initiatives of and for people concerned or at risk of discrimination. Such work will lead us to draw conclusions for policy recommendations to fight racism and hate speech.
Making our voice stronger
In 2022, we will continue to amplify the diverse voices of older people. We will seek to reinforce bonds between our members, encourage knowledge transfer and mutual learning between older people’s organisations, and increase their capacity to advocate for age equality. Our efforts will also focus on improving AGE’s representativeness across the EU.
Thanks to the support of our long-term partners and donors, we will work at developing a movement for age equality and societies for all ages. We will be looking for new supporters to collaborate with us on our various initiatives and events throughout the year.
Your voice and support matters and we will strive to use all the expertise, knowledge and thoughts of our members and external partners to help realise our vision of a Society for All Ages. Do not hesitate to reach out if you wish to get involved!