Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 04, 2016 (SKNIS): In an effort to celebrate the lives of older persons throughout the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development continues its thrust to ensure that older persons are remembered and honoured with the observation of the Month of Older Persons.

Observed October 01-31, 2016 under the theme “Take a Stand Against Ageism”, with the sub-theme “60+ Counts”, Minister of State with responsibility for Social Services and Community Development, the Honourable Senator Wendy Phipps explained that this “year’s theme was drawn from the United Nations’ (UN’s) official celebration of International Day of Older Persons on October 1, 2016, and is meant to draw attention to and challenge the practice of ageism”.

“Ageism is defined as discrimination of individuals on the basis of age – particularly discrimination against the elderly. As such, our celebration of The Month of Older Persons is designed to achieve three (3) major UN goals,” said Minister Phipps. [These are] “explore and challenge negative attitudes and mindsets of ageing and older persons; promote a positive image of ageing and older persons via the sharing of best practices among countries that address age discrimination, promote social inclusion, and create positive representations of older persons in the media, etc.; and call for improved data collection, analysis and reporting of age-disaggregated data to better understand the experiences, changing needs and contributions of people as they age. This exercise should assist in empowering older persons and safeguard their rights.”

Senator Phipps noted that based on data from the UN Population Fund (UNFA) people aged 60 and older accounted for 12.3 percent of the global population in 2015.

“By the year 2050, this number will rise to approximately 22 per cent – almost a quarter of our global head count,” said Minister Phipps. “This means that member countries of the UN must continue – and in most, if not all cases – accelerate our socioeconomic and political programmes to ensure that we can take care of this vulnerable and growing segment of our population. For us in the Caribbean, this is rather critical, given the projection that most of the growth of our older population will take place in developing countries such as ours.”

Minister Phipps said that presently more than half of the world’s 901 million older persons live in Asia, adding that of the 901 million, 508 million are 60 years and older.

“For us in Latin America and the Caribbean, there are – at present – some 71 million older persons. These sobering statistics mean that every effort must be made to reduce inequalities being suffered by older persons, while doing all in our power to ensure that their human rights are respected and that they live lives with dignity,” she said.