top of page
Glynnis with members of Gendenmawa OPA (

Virtual Commonwealth Elders Forum  

Ageing and Ageism in the Commonwealth

The Way Forward Post-COVID    

30 September 2020

15:00 - 16:30 GMT

Common Age Colour Tagline Logo.jpg

Opening Statements


Lord Ahmad

UK Minister for The Commonwealth

profile (3).png

Baroness Scotland

Secretary-General of The Commonwealth

profile (3).png

Hon.Ignatienne Nyirarukundo

Rwanda Minister of State

profile (3).png



Andrew Larpent



profile (3).png

Shem Ochola

Deputy Director-General

Commonwealth Foundation

profile (3).png

Amal Rafeh

Chief of Programme on Ageing

Social Inclusion and Participation Branch

Division for Inclusive Social Development

Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)

profile (3).png

Kiran Karnik


HelpAge India

profile (3).png

Isabella Aboderin

Regional Chair for Africa

International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics

profile (3).png

Closing Remarks


HE Winnie Kiap

Papua New Guinea High Commissioner

profile (3).png

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. 


bottom of page