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On October 6, as the United Nations headquarters in NYC marked the International Day of Older Persons with a special event, “Take a Stand Against Ageism.” Giving the keynote speech was author and activist Ashton Applewhite, who just a couple of weeks later was named Influencer of the Year by NextAvenue.org for her role in reshaping the way we perceive age. With her 2016 book, “This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism,”Applewhite has brought the topic of ageism to mainstream media.
“Take a Stand Against Ageism” started with a screening of AARP’s biting anti-aging video and continued with speeches and a panel, both of which focused on ageism’s influence on policy and practices, and the UN’s vision in this regard: the kind of government policy and practices that promote independence, participation, care, self-fulfillment and dignity among older people.
To speed through to the most interesting sections of the almost three-hour video, use the time bar at the bottom of the player to move ahead:
- 00:52 — AARP video
- 22:27 — Daniela Bas, director of the Division for Social Policy and Development, UNDESA, takes a global look at aging and ageism, and breaks down the notion that traditional societies show more respect to older people.
- 28:18 – 45.25 — Ashton Applewhite gives the keynote address — a must-watch. If you’re familiar with the criticism that the United Nations faces from older people and advocates around its arguably ageist Sustainable Development Goals 2030, you might notice a veiled reference in her speech.
- 49:00 — Moderator Edith M. Lederer, chief correspondent at the UN for the Associated Press, introduces the panel on Ageism in Different Contexts
- 58:03 —The panel on Ageism in Different Contexts begins, with representatives from Singapore, South Africa and the WHO in Geneva. Many fascinating moments offer a window into aging and ageism in other cultures.
- 1:39:42 — The panel responds to question and answers — and Applewhite (at 1:40:41) challenges several of the day’s speakers to think about why they’ve used the terms “young in spirit” and “young at heart.” One question from the audience: How can older persons themselves tackle ageism and organize
The core message throughout the event: Aging is not personal, it’s political.
The way we age and how we experience it, whether we’re healthy or sick, if we can find meaningful work or not, and so much more are not a reflection of how “successfully” we’re aging. They’re a reflection of how ageist our society is.
One question to the panel from the audience (at 1:49:19): How can older persons themselves tackle ageism and organize against it? Join the conversation in the comments section below.