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  • Jack Kupferman

Jack Kupferman May 22 OEWGA Remarks

May 22, 2024

Thank you for this opportunity. Gray Panthers is one of the recognized names in advocacy for older persons, and for issues of social justice through intergenerational collaboration. As clearly stated by the founder Maggie Kuhn, “Speak out, even if your voice shakes.”  This is an important reminder for all of us here. 

Participation by older persons in every policy framework, and in every forum is key. For too many decades, the voice of older persons (both individually and collectively) has been ignored and demeaned. I’m sure that each of you here can identify instances where this has occurred. 

As we move forward toward the creation of an internationally binding instrument to assure the human rights of older persons, we must emphasize that participation is key. Drafting of a convention should start now, without further delay. 

Clarifying the way forward, the Open Ended Working Group should recommend that the General Assembly request that the Human Rights Council to consider and take action on the recommendations contained in decision 14/1 as a matter of urgency. 

Apropos of this session, any further action must include meaningful participation of older persons, their representative organizations, civil society organizations, and national human rights institutions. The importance of participation extends also to the circumstances of individuals. 

Overcoming the scourge of ageism and the essential need to provide opportunities for the ever increasing population of older persons, the best recognition at the global level is a powerful global convention to protect the human rights of older persons. This aligns perfectly with the dreams of Maggie Kuhn and for all older persons.

Let me provide an important example where the participation of older persons is routinely ignored. In long term care facilities everywhere, residents have limited voice. Even for those with dementia, participation matters. Let me offer a quotation, “Just because I don’t know where I am doesn’t mean that I don’t know what I what”. No voice, no choice. 

Satisfaction in life choices, such as freedom from chemical restraints, food selection, even when to bathe, are too often denied to those in long term care. True participation in making these decisions should be required, not optional. This represents just another example of how pervasive the lack of participation by older persons really is. 

I would be remiss in not acknowledging the importance of civic participation through voting and in other civic affairs. Participation in civic affairs by older persons must be encouraged and enhanced everywhere. Currently, emphasis on this essential issue focuses on youth. Yet, older persons’ participation is essential when devising policies and programs for themselves and for the broader society. 

Thank you for your attention.


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