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Beijing+20 review: “Older women must not remain invisible” – UN expert urges all Governments

GENEVA (12 March 2015) – United Nations human rights expert Rosa Kornfeld-Matte today called on the main global body dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women to ensure that the concerns of older women are taken into account during its current discussions in New York.

From 9 to 20 March, the Commission on the Status of Women is gathering UN Member States, civil society organizations and UN bodies to review the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 20 years after its adoption (Beijing+20). The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is considered the most progressive plan for achieving gender equality.

“Older women still remain invisible in the current reviewing process and discussions,” warned the Independent Expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons around the world.

“And they remain invisible despite of the fact that the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action recognizes the impact of age discrimination and include recommendations for actions on specific areas affecting older women, such as poverty, health and labour market,” Ms. Kornfeld-Matte stressed.

The expert noted that older women currently outnumber older men almost everywhere. According to the UN World Population Situation Report in 2014, globally, there were 85 men per 100 women in the 60 years or older age group. And the figure drops to 61 men per 100 women in the 80 years or older bracket. “The ‘feminization’ of ageing raises important concerns that can no longer be ignored,” she highlighted.

“The challenges faced by women, especially when they age, must not be forgotten,” she said. “Their rights to live with autonomy and in environments that are safe and adaptable to their changing capacities, their role in building climate resilience, their full and equal participation in decision-making at all levels and the importance of intergenerational solidarity are some of the issues that need further actions.”

“I call on all States and other stakeholders in the Commission on the Status of Women to firmly include the concerns of older women, especially, those widowed or living alone, those with dementia or any other disability, those in need of palliative and geriatric care or in emergency situation or displacement, who are most at risk of multiple forms of discrimination, violence and poverty,” she said.

The Independent Expert recommended the adoption of a gender and age-sensitive approach to ensure that national legislations and policies take into account the needs of older women and promote their human rights with dignity.

“The concerns of older women must be reflected in the implementation and reviewing process of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action over the next years as a way of strengthening gender equality and the empowerment of women in the new post-2015 development agenda,” Ms. Kornfeld-Matte concluded. “Older women must not remain invisible.”

Ms. Rosa Kornfeld-Matte (Chile) was appointed by Human Rights Council as the first Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons in May 2014. Ms. Kornfeld-Matte served as the National Director of the Chilean National Service of Ageing where she designed and implemented the National Policy of Ageing. She has a long career as an academic and is the founder of the programme for older persons at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/OlderPersons/IE/Pages/IEOlderPersons.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Human rights of older persons: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/OlderPersons/Pages/OlderPersonsIndex.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact Mr. Khaled Hassine (+41 22 917 93 67 / khassine@ohchr.org) or write to olderpersons@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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