Opening the gathering “Bridge of Understanding – Intergenerational Solidarity” on International Day of Older Persons at the National Assembly House, the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia Maja Gojkovic said that it is important to learn, as a society, about the importance of intergenerational solidarity, understanding and support because the development of a country depends both on the experience of age and energy of youth.
“A society that discriminates between generations cannot grow because we need to learn from each other. The society needs all of us, just as to develop a country needs the experience of age and the energy of youth”, said Gojkovic, adding that the gathering at the Serbian Assembly aims to send a clear message that “we are ready to build a society that has a place for every one of us”.
Gojkovic said that this calls for communication between the generations and raising awareness on old age by promoting a positive image of it and helping combat discrimination and with it violence against and neglect of the elderly.
Gojkovic said that the Serbian Assembly recognizes the importance of the topic and is today discussing the Commissioner for Protection of Equality 2018 Regular Annual Report, accompanied by the Conclusion Proposal of the Committee on Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality.
Gojkovic said that it is important to define new creative public policies to meet these challenges, improve the legislation and foster a more age-positive climate in society. The Parliament Speaker said that in addition to passing good laws, it is important to coordinate the efforts of the relevant institutions in the care for the elderly, especially those living in rural and inaccessible areas.
Gojkovic said that the accessibility of healthcare and welfare services needs to be improved especially in term of house care, community-health nursing, home assistance viz. housekeepers for the elderly and to develop support programmes such as day care centres and pensioners’ clubs to prevent senior citizens from feeling excluded from society.
Since the risk of poverty looms large among the elderly, the Serbian Assembly Speaker said it is essential to, as society, in line with our economic progress and development, enable our senior citizens to age with dignity, where the announced pension raise will prove very important.
Gojkovic stressed that intergenerational understanding requires constant care, mentioning the Assembly’s guests – pensioners from Belgrade Gerontology Centre and the students of “Drinka Pavlovic” elementary as a shining example of intergenerational solidarity and understanding.
“As we send this message from the National Assembly today, I must stress that it is our task, all of us – the National Assembly, Government, independent bodies, media – to create a more just society, to fight and oppose prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination”, said Gojkovic.
Besides the National Assembly Speaker, the Chairperson of the Committee on Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality Jasmina Karanac, Commissioner for Protection of Equality Brankica Jankovic and State Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development Annamaria Vicsek also addressed the gathering.
The Chairperson of the Committee on Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality Jasmina Karanac said that, being dedicated to human rights, the Committee is firmly committed to the issue at hand. Besides their control and legislative role, the Committee and Assembly are also dedicated to cooperating with the non-governmental sector and independent bodies such as the Commissioner for Protection of Equality. The specific problems faced by the elderly cannot be disregarded and neither can their integration in every-day life and their not insignificant contributions to society.
Commissioner for Protection of Equality Brankica Jankovic said that this is an opportunity to raise awareness on the need to integrate senior citizens and put their needs high on the political agenda so that we can improve their lives. The latest research has pinpointed the inadequate accessibility of healthcare and welfare services, transportation and certain economic barriers as the biggest problems among the older population. According to her, the essays submitted to the competition show us that children are aware of the problems of old age and offer new insights and experiences.
State Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development Annamaria Vicsek congratulated International Day of Older Persons to the senior citizens attending and all the participants of the competition on behalf of Minister Mladen Sarcevic. She said that objective of the competition was to help reduce age-discrimination and promote intergenerational solidarity and tolerance and respect diversity. Vicsek said that the Ministry will continue to support project “Bridge of Understanding”, hoping that it will spread to the benefit of the older and younger generations alike.
The gathering, co-organized by the Committee on Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality and the Commissioner for Protection of Equality, also hosted the award ceremony for the winners of the competition of essays, art pieces and photography with the topic intergenerational solidarity.