Thursday, March 8, 2012

Older Women Rights, Voices, Actions

Aparna Mehrotra, at the podium
Rosemary Lane and Susanne Paul

March 2, 2012

Chaired by:

Susanne Paul, President Global Action on Aging

Sponsored by:

Baha’i International Community, EURAG, Global Alliance

Supported by:

Women’s Alliance for a Democratic Iraq, Widows Rights International, National Alliance of Women’s Organizations


The seminar on “Older Women: Rights, Voices, Action” provided an opportunity to discuss and explore about the situation of older women in the world today, efforts to secure the human rights of older persons. The panel also highlighted the voices of rural older women as they are the major food providers in world’s rural areas. A broad range of people participated in the event from different civil society organizations. The Chair, Susanne Paul opened the panel and welcomed all who attended and encouraged the exchange of ideas among participants.


The keynote speaker, Ms. Aparna Mehrora from UN Women, addressed the issues of aging, gender and the global lack of data on older women. It was followed by Rosemary Lanes speech on the progress of the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing. Elizabeth Kharono explained the new plan of action for the right of women to land and social protection in Uganda. Elizabeth Sclater brought out the framework of the contributions of rural women to the CEDAW document. Unfortunately, Pakishan Zangan could not attend the event who was supposed to talk about the experience of older women in Iraq. Every speech was followed by a short Q&A session.

Ms. Aparna Mehrotra: Senior Advisor on Coordination and Focal Point for Women in the UN System, Division for Coordination, UN Women

Ms. Mehrotra spoke out about the issues of ageing and gender. She confirmed that the aim of the UN research was to consider the progress that has been made over the past decade in implementing the Madrid Plan of Action on Aging. She also stressed the fact that gender perspective is not being effectively taken into account in ageing policies.

In 1994, the statistics for the campaign “Violence against Women” covered only women aged 49 or younger. This is an important data that should be highlighted. The lack of data helps to underline the need to include older people and ageing in our policies. . She pointed out the importance of supporting member states to improve the data collection and analysis in order to unleash the potential of older women. She finalized her speech by hoping that the World’s Older Persons Report would mark a step where older women are no more seen as jeopardy but as a perfect union.

Rosemary Lane: Senior Social Affairs Officer, UN Focal Point Ageing

Ms. Rosemary Lane addressed the progress of the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Aging. It’s noteworthy that two of the regions (Africa and Asia) were almost completely absent at the discussions of the OEWG meetings. She quickly went over the monitoring process of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing at the global level, particularly during the second review and appraisal period which is to come at the end of 2012. She amplified the importance of including older persons’ issues in the existing human rights mechanisms as well as national policies and programs. Ms. Lane encouraged developing national data collection on older people and supporting older persons’ organizations to attend the OEWG session in August 2012.

Elizabeth Kharono: Baha’i International Community Delegate, Uganda

Elizabeth Kharono emphasized the prominence of access to land and social protection for women in Uganda. Women continue to face multiple threats of discrimination in Uganda. She underlined the significant role of rural women in Uganda in providing food for the whole family. She believed that the women‘s lands rights and rights to social protection would strengthen the national protection regime. It would also provide them with a decent life as well as their families and communities.

Elizabeth Sclater: General Secretary, Older Women’s Network, Europe/EURAG Representative

Elizabeth Sclater distributed the Secretary General’s report on the Human Rights of Older Persons report. She said that the UK older women are considerably poorer than older men, and the oldest are the poorest. On average, a woman’s income in retirement is only 57% of that of men. The rural older women in the UK are facing more financial hardship than urban older women. The living costs in rural area are much higher than urban area for older people. Older women have contributed to UK CEDAW by including the protection of the rights of older women.

by Sanaa Smaoui,


  1. I am delighted about this discussion that appropriately integrated attention to the rights of women and of older adults. I hope that both the Commission on the Status of Women and GAA will expand the partnership!

    1. Paulette, acamage, cameroonDecember 31, 2012 at 4:53 PM

      I go along with jane, but let me stress on OLDER WOMEN RIGTHS fOR CERTAIN,we are working on it.