International Day for Older Persons: Leaving No One Behind

Barcelona: social movement “IaioFlautas” of senior citizens in a protest action (2013)

October 1 was set as the International Day for Older Persons by the United Nations in 1990, and each year the puts a different focus on it. This year theme is “Leaving No One Behind: Promoting a Society for All“.

Studies show that population over 65 is to grow all over the world due to advances in health care and living conditions that are leading to lower mortality and fertility rates. Instead of approaching it as a problem, socities can take advantage of the opportunities new demographics bring in. If the obsolete study-labor-retirement sequence is revisited, policy makers manage social protection wisely and societies change their mindsets towards older people, then Seniors’ talent can be leveraged in benefit of all.

Too often, older people are regarded as “no longer useful or productive”, and often become marginalized.

The society cannot afford to waste the valuable resource Seniors represent. And, certainly, we cannot leave them behind. Because of the importance of this topic, this UNESCO Chair is strongly committed to the research in the field of ageing and will keep working to improve the knowledge available and raise awareness of the elders’ key role in society.


International Women’s Day: violence and obstacles yet to overcome


About a third of all women in the EU have experienced either physical or sexual violence since the age of 15, and 55% said they had been sexually harassed. These are the hard-hitting findings of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency-carried out survey, recently released.

Results sharply vary among countries: 19% of women have suffered violence by a partner in Poland while in Denmark the share is up to 52%. However, these numbers may be quite misleading, because women in northern societies are far more open to report abuse while in other parts of Europe it is still seen as a domestic, private conflict.

Inequality has so many faces: career development

Indeed, women face inequality in many fields and at different levels of their professional careers. In business, only few of them reach top positions. To deal with that, the Chamber of Commerce of Barcelona recently presented a new online database which enables women to register as potential executives for those companies seeking women to join their Boards of Directors. According to a Spanish law passed in 2007, in big companies the share of women among the Board of Directors’ members will have to be not less than 40% by 2015. However, in Catalonia, only 11% of companies meet that requirement, and this new tool aims to provide them with female talent to bridge the gap ahead of deadline.

During the session, the President of the Women, Business and Economy Observatory of the Chamber, Núria Lao, stated that the cost of the glass ceiling in terms of GDP is about €1bn only in Catalonia, with no more than 4.5% of executive positions being filled by women. Anna Mercadé, Director of the Observatory, observed that with 60% of degree holders being women, numbers must turn upside down.

Ms. Mercadé explained that the database will gather information about skills and abilities acquired both in formal and informal life. Users will be able to attach files to back their proficiency. Eventually, an interview with Chamber’s staff will help identify weaknesses and draw a path to improve applicants’ skills. “It is our duty to convince other women of applying for executive positions, because in the top we have the power to set the agenda, preventing men-shaped work schedules which usually damage work-life balance”, she declared.

A very practical database: a tool for women, boosted by women, to empower women.

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More information:

FRA Report

Executive Women Database