Virtual Commonwealth Elders Forum
Ageing and Ageism in the Commonwealth
The Way Forward Post-COVID
30 September 2020
15:00 - 16:30 GMT
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the rights and needs of older persons. The Virtual Commonwealth Elders Forum brings together high-level voices from across The Commonwealth to share reflections and discuss how The Commonwealth can respond to older people’s rights and needs.
As Commonwealth Heads of Government prepared to meet in Rwanda in June 2020, the world was responding to a health, humanitarian, social and economic crisis of unprecedented scale. CHOGM was postponed and world leaders focused all their efforts on combating the COVID-19 crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the rights and needs of older persons. While everyone has been affected, evidence shows that older people are among those most at risk of complications from the disease, with fatality rates for those over 80 years of age five times the global average. They are also at greater risk of poverty, discrimination and isolation. Older persons have been hit particularly hard by the virus itself but it has been the failure to protect their rights in the response that has led to unnecessary deaths, unmet health and care needs, increased isolation, discrimination and stigma.
Governments across the world have to take into account the rights and needs of older people. This is illustrated by the UN Secretary-General’s policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on older persons and by The Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland’s statement on COVID-19 and older persons in which she said: “The Commonwealth has a special responsibility to show the way and to take a lead in upholding the importance attending to the needs and concerns of older people.”
As countries across The Commonwealth face the challenges from this crisis and the implications it may have in the longer term, we have a chance to address the systems that failed so many older people across the world and build a better world for everyone, working towards a more inclusive Commonwealth where everyone’s human rights are protected, whatever their age.