World Elders Day “Digital Equity for All Ages’
On 14 December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly designated 1st October the International Day of Older Persons. In 1991, the General Assembly (by resolution 46/91) adopted the United Nations Principles for Older Persons. Over the next three decades, the number of older persons worldwide is projected to more than double, reaching more than 1.5 billion persons in 2050. All regions will see an increase in the size of the older population between 2019 and 2050. The largest increase (312 million) is projected to occur in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, growing from 261 million in 2019 to 573 million in 2050. India will soon be experiencing the ‘grey Tsunami’.
Every year the United Nations has a separate theme for the year. The aim is to improve care of older people, to educate the public about the rights of older people and give guidelines to the governments to adopt laws that would prevent abuse of the older persons and improve their quality of life.
The United Nations International Day of Older Persons 2021 theme is ‘Digital Equity for All Ages’. This predicates the need for access and meaningful participation in the digital world by older persons. The fourth industrial revolution is characterized by rapid digital innovation, characterized by exponential growth has transformed all sectors of society including how we live, work and relate to one another. Technological advances offer great hope for accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Recent reports by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) indicate that women and older persons experience digital inequity to a greater extent than other groups in society; they either lack access to technologies or are often not benefitting fully from the opportunities provided by technological progress.
As efforts to connect more people are currently under way, new risks have become apparent. For example, cybercrimes and misinformation threaten the human rights, privacy, and security of older people. The rapid speed of adoption of digital technology has outpaced policy and governance at the national, regional, and global levels. The Secretary-General’s Roadmap seeks to address these challenges by recommending concrete action to harness the best of these technologies and mitigate their risks.
This year, the International Day of Older Persons 2021 will provide a platform for multistakeholder dialogue and serve as a call to action. The #UNIDOP2021 will adopt a person centered, human rights approach to ensure digital equity including adequate policies, access, digital literacy and safety for individuals of all ages
Objectives of UNIDOP 2021:
• Ageism & Human Rights
To bring awareness of the importance of digital inclusion of older persons, while tackling stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination associated with digitalization taking into account sociocultural norms and the right to autonomy.
• Sustainable Development
To highlight policies to leverage digital technologies for full achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
• Access & Literacy
To address public and private interests, in the areas of availability, connectivity, design, affordability, capacity building, infrastructure, and innovation.
• Cybersecurity & Ethics
To explore the role of policies and legal frameworks to ensure privacy and safety of older persons in the digital world.
To highlight the need for a legally binding instrument on the rights of older persons and an intersectional person-centered human rights approach for a society for all ages.
The month of October will be celebrated as older person’s month and we shall be publishing on important issues pertaining to older persons from our Department.
Dr Afshan Shabir
(The author is working as Assistant Professor in Department of Geriatric Medicine, SKIMS)