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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2023: Closing the Circle

June 15 marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), an important occasion that brings attention to the issue of elder abuse globally. In partnership with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UN WOMEN, and with support from the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA), the World Health Organization published a resource titled “Tackling abuse of older people: five priorities for the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing 2021–2030.”

This resource highlights key priorities aimed at preventing and responding to the abuse of older persons, ultimately improving their health, well-being, and dignity. As we commemorate WEAAD this year, it is essential to provide an update on the implementation of these priorities.

Closing the Circle: Addressing Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Older Age – Policy, Law, and Evidence-based Responses

In conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), this year’s WEAAD commemoration aligns with the year-long campaign to promote and recognize this significant milestone. The campaign’s focus in June is to raise awareness of the UDHR’s legacy, relevance, and activism concerning women’s rights. The 2023 WEAAD commemoration at the United Nations Headquarters in New York adopts the theme “Closing the Circle: Addressing Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Older Age – Policy, Law, and Evidence-based Responses.”

On Thursday, June 15, 2023, from 1:15 pm to 2:30 pm (EDT) in New York, UNHQ, an expert panel will present an overview of violence against older persons, highlighting the gaps and challenges in implementing the objectives outlined in the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. The panelists will also present five priorities to combat violence against older persons during the Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021-2030).

Addressing Elder Abuse

The global population of persons aged 60 years or over is projected to grow by 38% between 2019 and 2030, reaching 1.4 billion individuals. This increase will be most significant and rapid in developing countries, emphasizing the need to address the specific challenges faced by older persons, particularly in the context of human rights.

Elder abuse is a pervasive problem in both developing and developed countries, yet it remains significantly underreported on a global scale. Prevalence rates vary from 1% to 10% in selected developed countries. While the exact extent of elder mistreatment is unknown, its social and moral significance cannot be ignored. It necessitates a comprehensive global response that focuses on protecting the rights of older persons.

Cultural Context and Risk Factors

Efforts to define, detect, and address elder abuse must take into account cultural contexts and culturally specific risk factors. For example, in some traditional societies, older widows may face forced marriages, while in others, isolated older women may be accused of witchcraft. From both health and social perspectives, it is crucial for primary health care and social service sectors to be well-equipped to identify and address this problem. Without adequate measures in place, elder abuse will continue to be underdiagnosed and overlooked.

Age-friendly Cities Benefit Everyone

Creating age-friendly cities benefits not only older people but also the entire community. This approach is especially significant for older migrants and refugees residing in communities outside their own. By targeting the challenges faced by older individuals, age-friendly cities strive to create enabling environments where everyone can live and thrive.

Global Issues: Ageing

Population ageing is poised to become one of the most transformative social phenomena of the twenty-first century, impacting various sectors of society. Labor and financial markets, demand for goods and services such as housing, transportation, and social protection, as well as family structures and intergenerational ties, will all be affected. Acknowledging these changes, it is vital to address the implications and adapt policies and programs accordingly.

The Decade of Healthy Ageing

The Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021-2030) presents an opportunity for governments, civil society, international agencies, professionals, academia, the media, and the private sector to join forces. Through ten years of collaborative action, this initiative aims to improve the lives of older people, their families, and the communities they reside in. By focusing on the health and well-being of older individuals, the Decade of Healthy Ageing seeks to ensure that older adults can age with dignity and continue to contribute to society.

Why do UN mark International Days?

International days and weeks serve several purposes. They educate the public about pressing global issues, mobilize political will and resources to address these challenges, and celebrate the achievements of humanity. While the observance of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, the UN has embraced them as powerful advocacy tools. These days also provide an opportunity to highlight other UN observances and their significance.


World Elder Abuse Awareness Day serves as a reminder of our responsibility to protect and respect the rights of older persons. Addressing gender-based violence in older age requires comprehensive policies, robust legal frameworks, and evidence-based responses. By working together, we can create a world that values and safeguards the dignity and well-being of older individuals.

FAQs for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

1. How can individuals contribute to addressing elder abuse?

Everyone can contribute by staying informed about the signs of elder abuse, reporting any suspected cases, and supporting organizations working to prevent and address elder abuse.

2. What are some risk factors for elder abuse?

Risk factors for elder abuse include social isolation, caregiver stress, intergenerational conflicts, and limited access to resources and support.

3. How can age-friendly cities benefit older people?

Age-friendly cities prioritize the needs of older people by creating accessible environments, improving transportation options, and promoting social inclusion and participation.

4. What is the significance of the Decade of Healthy Ageing?

The Decade of Healthy Ageing provides a platform for collective action to improve the lives of older people and ensure they age with dignity and well-being.

5. How can we promote awareness about elder abuse beyond World Elder Abuse Awareness Day?

We can promote awareness by incorporating discussions on elder abuse in educational programs, conducting campaigns, and encouraging open dialogues within communities.

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  • External reference: UN
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