Category Archives: Equality and Human Rights

Healthy ageing: a vision of the future?

On the International Day of Older Persons the World Health Organisation (WHO) has published a new ‘World Report on Ageing and Health’. Here Ken Bluestone, who leads Age International’s policy and influencing work, looks at the findings from the report. 

An astonishing transformation is taking place that has until now been absent from mainstream development thinking: global ageing. Its absence is even more surprising as the evidence makes clear that demographic changes are affecting developing countries the most.

Currently about one in ten of the population is aged 60 or over; but within a generation – 2050 – this ratio will soar to one in five.  Two-thirds of the 868 million older people alive today are in developing countries; and of the 2 billion people expected to be over the age of 60 by 2050, over three-quarters will live in low and middle-income countries. The rate of change is phenomenal.

What we do with this information will determine whether this new reality is something to welcome or be feared. This is why the World Health Organisation’s new ‘World Report on Ageing and Health’ released today on the International Day of Older Persons is so important. Its message is clear: celebrate our longer lives; invest in older people; but most importantly – be prepared. Continue reading

Closing the gender pay gap

This week’s blog was contributed by Joanne Sawyer, Policy Adviser, at Age UK.  

Whilst older women are a vital force in today’s workplaces, they tend to fare poorly in the labour market.  They are more likely than men to be in lower paid, lower skilled, insecure or part time work and to have had one or more periods out of the labour market (such as to care for children or older relatives).

We are pleased that the Government is currently looking into how to support women throughout their working lives.  It is proposing to require larger employees (of which Age UK is one) to report their gender pay gap (i.e. the percentage gap between men and women’s pay within their organisation).

For women under the age of 40, there is reason to be cheerful as the gender pay gap has broadly disappeared.  But for those in their 40s and beyond, the picture is far less rosy.  Women working full time in their 40s or those aged over 60 earn nearly 14% less than men.  And women in their 50s earn 18% less than men, the highest of any working age group.

Not only is the gender pay gap significant during a women’s working life, but it affects her financial security, such as her pension, in later life.

Age UK believes that publishing gender pay gap information will help to shine a light on women’s lower pay throughout their working lives and their financial wellbeing in retirement.  However, publishing information alone will not be enough, unless the Government and employers focus on the reasons for the pay gap and how to address them. Continue reading

A UN Convention on the Rights of Older People: from deliberation to action

Ageism is a world-wide problem and negative attitudes towards older people are pervasive in many cultures and societies, including our own. Older people are all too often stereotyped as ‘has-beens’ with no aspirations or future and even as threats to the opportunities of younger people.  The direct effect of this ageism is that older people are at major risk of experiencing discriminatory treatment globally and across a wide range of situations; from undignified and inadequate care in the household, hospitals and residential homes, to unequal treatment in employment and inadequate responses in emergency and humanitarian situations.

The UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) adopted in 1948 explicitly prohibits discrimination on a wide range of grounds; ‘race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status’ (UDHR, Art 2). Arguably the most glaring omission from this list is ‘age’, the result of which is that very little attention is given to the human rights of older people by international human rights mechanisms. Continue reading

Guest blog: Uncovering the incontinence taboo in social care


Today’s guest blog is from Professor Paul Abrams, Chair of the expert group on LUTS and highlights the issues that arise when continence isn’t given the prominence it deserves.

According to the Department of Health, incontinence is second only to dementia as a precipitating factor in care home admissions and affects nearly 2 in 3 in nursing homes.

Despite this, new analysis published by the expert group on lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) demonstrates that the majority of local authority commissioners do not view incontinence as a priority.

Continue reading