The important message behind the International Day of Older Persons
1 October was the United Nations' (UN) 'International Day of Older Persons'; an important event in the effort to promote the many amazing things older people contribute to our society.
To mark this momentous day in the international calendar, we've prepared this introduction to the event, its aims, and why it's so important to celebrate the vital role older people play.
What does the International Day of Older Persons aim to achieve?
The UN declared 1 October as the International Day of Older Persons in perpetuity during the winter of 1990.
The event aims to improve the living conditions of the 700 million over 60s in the world today, a figure projected to rise to 2 billion by 2050.
Both the UN and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are instrumental in arranging this initiative. The former introduces a new theme each year, while the latter focuses on ensuring universal provision of adequate health provisions and social care for older people.
A host of different institutions take part in the initiative each year, including parliament, the media, schools, public institutions and workplaces.
This year, the UN has chosen the theme of 'Celebrating Older Human Rights Champions'. Through this theme, the UN aims to promote the important role of older people within society, as well as the specific achievements of individual human rights activists.
Who are the older human rights champions this event is celebrating?
The UN has purposefully set out to cast the net wide in terms of the people it’s celebrating on the International Day of Older Persons.
Rightly, the organisation points out that, while there are many well-known names who've made a significant difference, many older people also have a truly meaningful effect on human rights at a grassroots level.
The only real criteria the UN sets out is that they should have been born around the time the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948.
Here are some more famous examples of older human rights champions:
- Bishop Desmond Tutu: Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 1984, Tutu was a leading figure in the fight against South African apartheid, and remains politically active today.
- José Ramos-Horta: Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 1996, Ramos-Horta played an important role in resisting the Indonesian occupation of East Timor.
- Oscar Arias Sánchez: Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize 1987, Sánchez was President of Costa Rica, helping to bring a degree of peace to the region.
- Muhammad Yunus: Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2006, Yunus helped the less advantaged in Bangladesh access credit in order to improve their lives and escape poverty.
Older people have so much to offer society, with unique skills and knowledge developed over many years. By celebrating them, we give them greater scope to use these skills, as well as enhancing their sense of independence and self-worth. That's the true value of the International Day of Older Persons.
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