27 September 2005

Secretary-General, in Day of Older Persons Message, Stresses Need to Integrate Gender, Age Perspectives into Poverty Eradication Efforts

NEW YORK, 26 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons, observed on 1 October:

Women make up a clear majority of the world's older persons.  The theme for this year's observance of the International Day of Older Persons, "Ageing in the New Millennium:  Focus on poverty, older women and development", underscores the need to recognize the different impact of ageing on women and men, to ensure full equality between them, and to integrate both a gender perspective and an age perspective into legislation, policies, programmes and efforts to eradicate poverty.

At last month's World Summit, world leaders reaffirmed their determination to realize the development goals and objectives agreed in the major United Nations conferences and summits, including the Millennium Development Goals.  An important part of this effort will involve the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, by which Governments pledged not only to work for the security of older persons, but also to empower them, so that they can participate fully in the economic, political and social lives of their societies.

As the number of older persons increases over the next generation, more of the people living in poverty will be older than 60 years of age.  But they will also be ever more involved in efforts to eradicate poverty.  Older persons have already shown their commitment, their determination and their drive to meet this challenge.  Too often, however, they and their potential contributions are overlooked.  Yet we will not eradicate poverty, or achieve our other goals, without understanding how older persons -- and women in particular -- experience poverty, and unless we promote the active participation of older people in the design and implementation of appropriate programmes and activities.

On this International Day of Older Persons, I call upon Governments and all concerned actors to promote a society for people of all ages, to redouble efforts to implement the provisions of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, and to work towards changing attitudes, policies and practices so that, in the twenty-first century, the enormous potential of older persons may be fulfilled.

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