Earlier this month, I attended the intersessional meeting between civil society and the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG) in New York. The OWG is the group of UN member states that is leading the process towards a global framework beyond 2015. The session included a presentation on ageing for the first time ever.
I was invited to the meeting as an expert on ageing representing the International Longevity Center Global Alliance and HelpAge International. I joined a panel with representatives from the Children and Youth Major Group, Workers Trade Union and the LGBT society.
I argued that it is time policymakers realise that we are facing an “agequake“. By 2030, we will have more people over 60 than under 15. This should prompt governments to promote healthy ageing and empowerment of older people through the implementation of social policies that focus on health, income security and lifelong education.
Inequality in the post-2015 framework
We were given five questions related to the topic of the panel, which was inequality:
- Should there be a standalone goal on eliminating income inequalities?
- Should targets include affirmative action and quota for women, indigenous people and ethnic minorities?
- Should targets include all countries to improve their GINI coefficient?
- Should goals include the elimination of the gender pay gap?
- Is reducing extreme wealth important to eliminating inequalities?
I argued that we will never be able to achieve development or eliminate poverty if we fail to take into consideration how our world is ageing.
Eliminating income inequality: A new goal?
It is impossible to eliminate income inequalities in a world with poor standards of education and insecure employment. Instead we should aim to reduce inequality by ensuring all countries improve their GINI coefficient as part of the post-2015 agenda.
If that happens, we will be able to measure inequality on income and wealth. There are countries like mine – the Dominican Republic – that have experienced continuous economic growth for many years but still have one of the worst standards of distribution of wealth in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Setting a goal on the GINI coefficient, makes the governments accountable for targeting inequality and this will ensure improved lives for people of all ages. I firmly believe that the best way to escape poverty is through lifelong education for all.
I approached the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic to the UN to remind them of how our country, under the leadership of Ambassador Julia Alvarez, was responsible for all the proposals made at the UN in favour of older people.
I was encouraged by their response at the OWG session. The mission sent Ambassador Mariela Baez to the meeting; she deals with ageing and disability issues. She reiterated the decision of the Dominican government to improve the life of every older Dominican and encouraged member states to support the rights of older people.
I encourage all organisations to approach their governments and ask for their support to take forward the important issue of older people and population ageing.
- Watch Rosy Pereyra’s presentation (6 minutes 35 seconds) at the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals intersessional meeting of the Open Working Group with Major Groups and other Stakeholders.
- Visit the post-2015 section of our website and read our key messages.