H.E. Mrs. Zehra Zümrüt SELÇUK
Minister of Family, Labour and Social Services
The Republic of Turkey
In his remarks addressed at the General Assembly of the United Nations on 25 September 2018, H.E. Mr. Recep Tayyip ERDOĞAN, the President of the Republic of Turkey underlined the need to declare 2019 as the Year of Older Persons and to organize an Council on Ageing. Accordingly, we have identified the theme of the 1st Council on Ageing which will be organized under the auspices of the Presidency of Turkish Republic as “supporting active ageing” and “strengthening the rights of older persons”.
Population dynamics have been changing in the world. Birth rate decreases rapidly, while life expectancy and the rate of the elderly population increases within the general population. This demographic transformation puts forward the necessity for assessing the welfare of older people as integral with its cultural and economic aspects and accelerating the policies for older people. It is our fundamental objective to ensure protection of the rights of the elderly and to enable them to lead a healthy, productive, independent and dignified life in the community.
Playing the role of bridges from the past to the future through their wisdom and experience, older individuals of our societies guide us in every stage of our lives and thus sustain the community.
Although our country has a younger population when compared to other countries, it is estimated that the rate of individuals at or over 65 years old which constitute 8.8% of the current population of our country would rise to 22.6% in 2060. In line with improvement of living conditions , increase in the welfare of the community, provision of extensive social services by our governments and rising levels of public awareness on active ageing in our country, the life expectancy at birth has increased. On the other hand, it has been observed that there is a decline in birth growth rate in our country. In this respect, in order to retain the renewal capacity of our population, we consider reviewing our population policies among high priority issues.
Services we provide at home and at the institutions to meet the requirements of our elders and community-based care support systems not only increase the capacity of problem solving of older persons but also increase families’ capacities and as well increase the welfare of the family and society.
At the 1st Council on Ageing to be held to steer the polices for elderly welfare and older persons, studies will be conducted by commissions in the fields of active and healthy life, care economy, care services and life quality, financing care services, local administrations and age friendly cities, rights of older persons and economics of ageing. On the occasion of the Council, we will be expecting participation of the leaders, representatives of international organizations, academicians and civil society organizations who render this objective visible and accessible through their studies of old age and ageing.
In line with our targets for 2023 in the short term and for 2051 and 2071 in the long term, we endeavour to eliminate the barriers to access the individual rights older persons and extension of new social welfare service models. We will continue to support our elders in all domains of life from lifelong learning to active ageing and from care services to participation in social life.
We believe that, through tackling new approaches on strengthening the rights of older persons and active ageing at international level, this significant meeting will have positive reflections both on local and global policies.
Hereby, I would like to thank in advance to everyone who will contribute and participate with their knowledge, experience and efforts to the 1st Council on Ageing from our country or from different cultures and geographies of the world.