Brussels, 23 November 2010
Third European Demography Forum
Active Ageing means more than working longer
“To meet our demographic challenge, we need to do much more than just extend working lives” said Anne-Sophie Parent, Director of AGE Platform Europe at the 3rd EU Demography Forum in Brussels. “We need also to empower older people to participate and contribute to their communities, and to remain autonomous as long as possible. This requires coordinated efforts and political commitments at all levels to make our overall environment and the way our society is organised more age friendly and inclusive”, added Ms Parent.
Although AGE members acknowledge that we need to work longer to help address the pressure on younger generations and to keep our social protection adequate and sustainable, they hope however that the debate around active ageing will not focus exclusively on prolonging working careers to lighten the pressure on public budgets but will really aim at making a society where everyone is empowered to participate at all ages.
Employment policies should include the adaptation of working conditions including occupational health, measures to enable older workers to reconcile work and family life, and the promotion of a better image of older workers through effective anti-discrimination policies and awareness raising.
AGE welcomes the proposal made by the European Commission to extend the Healthy Life Years indicator by 2 years by 2020. This will encourage policy makers and stakeholders at all levels (social partners, service providers, civil society) to pull all relevant levers to achieve a healthier and more active ageing.
The gender dimension of our demographic challenge calls for strong action to help young people get into quality work much earlier and to support informal carers, including those who care for elderly dependent relatives, most of whom are women aged 45+. Measures are needed to facilitate their participation in employment and offer them adequate social protection through a fair compensation in terms of income and pension rights, as is done for parents of young children.
Much more needs to be done to remove the barriers that prevent retired people from participating and contributing to their community (age limits to volunteering, lack of insurance, etc.). We need a political commitment to make our environment more age friendly, i.e. not only the labour market, but also our public space, transport systems, housing facilities, communication and services using new technologies, etc.
AGE is very pleased that the programme of the 2010 European Demography Forum includes a session on the promotion of better family policies as these can play an important role in helping Member States address their demographic challenge and through the European Alliance on Families Member States can learn a lot from each others’ experience.
“With the upcoming European Year 2012 on Active Ageing, we will have an ideal opportunity to build all the commitments we need to promote a better participation and inclusion of older people in society and achieve greater solidarity and cooperation between generations through longer and healthier lives”, concluded Ms Parent