Press Releases

UNIS/INF/31
30 September 2004

United Nations Stresses Solidarity between Generations on International Day of Older Persons

VIENNA, 30 September (UN Information Service) -- “Older Persons in an Inter-generational Society” is this year’s theme of the International Day of Older Persons, to be commemorated on 1 October. With it, the United Nations wants to stress the important role that older persons play in their families, communities and societies. Today, one out of every ten persons in the world is 60 years or above; by 2050, one out of five will be 60 years or older; and by 2150 one out of three persons will be 60 years or older. The number of elderly persons has been rising rapidly throughout the world in recent years, both in the number and proportion. 

Ten years ago the General Assembly announced the International year of the Family and this year’s theme of the International Day of Older Persons also recognizes the importance of youth and the fact that today’s largest number of youths ever will soon make up the largest group of older persons ever.

“Yet in many places, both young and old remain excluded from meaningful participation in their societies, and the tremendous contribution they could make towards society’s development is often ignored. What is overlooked is that many older persons, far from receiving care, actually provide care for others,” said Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, in his message on the International Day of Older Persons.

The Second World Assembly on Ageing was held in Madrid in 2002. It recognized ageing as a global phenomenon and supported its inclusion in the international development agenda. The Secretary-General in his message pointed out: “Among its many recommendations, the Madrid Plan of Action encouraged Governments to review policies to ensure generational equity, and to promote the idea of mutual support and solidarity between generations as key elements of social development. Only in this way can we hope to build a truly intergenerational society.”

According to the Secretary-General’s Report, a Follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing, it is imperative to continue to include ageing in the development agenda and to maintain support for the issues among policy-makers. Promotion should aim to counter the continuing prevalence of stereotypical images about older persons being vulnerable, resource dependent and non-productive. With the number of elderly persons rising rapidly, ensuring that the challenges and concerns regarding the older persons are adequately incorporated into the programmes and projects of Governments, United Nations system agencies and organizations, is becoming a priority.

The United Nations will salute older persons around the world as part of the regular NGO briefings of the UN Department of Public Information. The event will be held on 7 October at the UN Headquarters in New York.

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