International Bulletin - Fall 1997
Message of the Secretary-General on the Occasion of the International Day of Older Persons - 1 October 1997
As we observe this year the seventh International Day of Older Persons, and as we prepare to commemorate next year the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we can be guided by the theme of the International Year of Older Persons, to be observed in 1999: "Towards a society for all ages."
A society for all ages is one that recognizes the rights and responsibilities of all age groups. It is one in which older persons can live healthy, productive, economically secure lives. It is one that adjusts its policies and plans to the needs and capabilities of all, thereby releasing the potential of all, for the benefit of all.
The General Assembly has taken several significant initiatives concerning the rights and welfare of older persons. In 1982, the Assembly endorsed the International Plan of Action on Ageing. In 1991, it adopted the United Nations Principles for Older Persons.
Today, with the ageing of individuals and populations in developed and developing countries alike, we face a two-fold challenge. First is the promotion of lifelong individual development, so that individuals reach old age with life skills, vocational skills, good health and good family and social networks. Second is the creation of an enabling and encouraging environment in which individuals of all ages can participate actively and receive care and support, when needed.
The situation of women bears special mention. Women everywhere are living longer than men. Women are also more likely than men to be poorer in old age, for various reasons: women's involvement in home-making and child-bearing; the interruption of their careers because of family responsibilities; lower investments in women's training and education; labour force discrimination and lower-paying jobs. Ensuring economic security for older women thus must be a major focus of our work.
The United Nations has consistently promoted the fullest possible participation of older persons in society, and the fullest possible recognition of their needs and concerns. As the world's demographic transition proceeds, let us redouble our efforts to make policies and programmes for older persons an integral part of overall development strategies. Let us also do more to encourage cross-generational cooperation. Young and old have much to offer each other. Promoting such an exchange is an investment from which all can benefit.
Last Modified: June 05, 2010