Half of the people on our planet are 30 years old or younger and are expected to reach 57 per cent by the end of 2030.
As long as there are the young and the old, there is the need to amplify the message that action is needed across all generations to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and leave no one behind. That’s the objective of International Youth Day 2022, which is commemorated every August 12.
Prejudice and discrimination based on a person’s age is an increasing problem that affects young and old alike. This ageism devalues and limits the contribution of both younger and older populations to our collective development.
Ageism against younger people manifests across employment, health, housing, and politics where younger people’s voices are often denied or dismissed.
The “Global Report on Ageism” launched by the United Nations in March 2021 highlights the many data gaps that exist with regard to ageism against youth. Young people continue to report age-related barriers in various spheres of their lives such as employment, political participation, health and justice. On an individual level, these age-related obstacles can deeply impact the well-being and livelihoods not only during the youth years but also in adulthood. On a societal level, ageism prevents us from thinking and designing policies and social services that adopt a life-course approach and are fair for all ages.
Our future depends on breaking the barriers that contribute to ageism. Fostering inclusion requires an integrated approach that creates an enabling environment, innovative tools, mechanisms, and platforms that allow youth and people of all ages to contribute meaningfully to the advancement of the SDGs.
We need three actions to combat ageism and its effects on people’s well-being and our prosperity.
Implement supportive policies and laws to end such discrimination:
Capable institutions and partnerships with traditional and religious authorities at local, regional and continental levels can help to overcome discriminatory social norms that promote ageism and exclusion.
Develop educational interventions for the empowerment of the youth:
This calls for the engagement of diverse actors across the spectrum of education, from primary school to tertiary institutions. Working with all ages in both formal and non-formal educational contexts can help to provide the tools to reduce the exposure and impact of ageism.
Promote engagement across generations for collective action:
Fostering interaction between people of different generations can help recognise young people, empower, and develop them to tap into opportunities to unleash their innovative potential for a better world.
All of us have a role to play in challenging and eliminating ageism.
It is important not to despise and undermine anybody whether young or old. We must collaborate to foster successful and equitable intergenerational relations and partnerships to ensure “no one is left behind”.
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