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Ageism is based on the assumption that older persons are somehow lacking due to their age. Robert Butler, who coined the term already in 1969, noted that prejudice against age is a prejudice against everyone since as longevity increases, we strive to become its ultimate victims. Whereas older persons represent the largest and one of the most heterogeneous segment of the global population, ageism perceives them in a generalised way built on assumptions and stereotypes. As such, ageism leads to age discrimination and hinders older persons from the full enjoyment of their human rights, as referenced in the Independent Expert’s 2016 comprehensive report (A/HRC/33/44, Para 62). Ageism can go both ways, creates negative impacts to younger generations too and contributes to an inter-generational divide.
Ageism and age discrimination were sharply brought to light during the COVID-19 pandemic that unveiled entrenched ageist attitudes in many areas, with older persons blamed to be the cause for lockdowns and other measures that restricted people’s freedoms. Given the disproportionate impact on older persons, the COVID-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on the gaps in human rights protections of this chronically invisible segment of the population and magnified existing violations of their rights. In this context, the first report presented by the Independent Expert to the General Assembly in 2020 (A/75/205) provided an initial assessment of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the human rights of older persons. The report found that, in many instances, response plans failed to include the specific needs of older persons and policies put in place to address the pandemic reiterated discriminatory approaches which were not as visible or apparent before the pandemic.
Building upon her 2020 report, the Independent Expert will seek to examine and raise awareness of the prevalence of ageism and age discrimination in her upcoming report to the Human Rights Council. She will also aim to analyse their possible causes and manifestations, look at best practices, review how existing international, regional and national legal frameworks are used to protect against age-discrimination and provide recommendations.
In order to inform the preparation of her report, the Independent Expert would like to seek contributions from States, national human rights institutions, civil society, academia, international and regional organizations, and all other relevant stakeholders, with a particular emphasis on sharing concrete examples and good practices where available.
While the Independent Expert welcomes any information, reports, legislation or other materials deemed pertinent to ageism and age-discrimination, she is particularly interested in the areas highlighted in this questionnaire:
Download the questionnaire (PDF): English | Français | Español
Please send your submissions in English, French or Spanish in attachment by email to [email protected], indicating in the heading “Submission to the call for contributions on ageism and age discrimination – 2021”. Please also kindly indicate whether you have any objection for the responses provided to be made available on the OHCHR webpage of the Independent Expert.
States and local governments
UN Agencies and other International Organizations
National Human Rights Institutions, Ombudspersons and Courts
NGOs and Civil Society Organizations