Dewdrop Foundation commemorates  with our dear country Nigeria as she marks 61 years today. We celebrate Nigeria as a Seenager today as the world also marks the International Day for Older Persons.

Today which marks the International Day for Older Persons brings with it the awareness and understanding of the roles of older persons in our communities and society at large. Over 20% (2 billion) of the world’s population is estimated to be 60 years and above by the year 2050, this calls for more efforts to combat age discrimination, neglect and abuse of the older population.

This year’s theme; “Digital Equity for all Ages” advocates the need for access and meaningful participation of the older persons in the digital world. The break of the Covid-19 pandemic has opened our world to the need for utilizing the technology at our disposal for growth and progress as it has shaped how we live, work and relate to one another.

In Nigeria especially in rural communities, older persons face discrimination on a daily basis which is caused by stereotyping, criticism etc. The younger population usually want nothing to do with the elderly . They are considered an economic burden with no value in society. This is mostly caused by the fact that a large number of older persons were mostly farmers, petty traders, and livestock rarer and as such are uneducated and retired. In most parts of Nigeria, older women are thought to be “witches” who bring misfortune to the family because they suffer age related health challenges such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia and the likes. Unfortunately, there is little or no knowledge awareness on the health challenge.  Some suffer all forms of abuse by family members & primary caregivers and are deprived of their right to a safe and happy life in older age. They also suffer from social marginalization, loneliness, and negligence, all of which violate the human rights of older people living in Nigeria.

In recent age, Technology advancements are becoming entrenched in many aspects of our societies and hold the potential to create opportunities towards an inclusive, sustainable development, and provide tools to surmount the challenges faced by many to fully participate in the development process. However, where access to ICTs is limited and not inclusive, it can intensify existing inequalities and even create new ones. Both the opportunities and challenges intrinsic to technological progress have been illustrated by the COVID-19 pandemic (United Nations 2020). Technological advances offer great hope for accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Digital equity refers to how people can access and effectively use the technology necessary to participate in the society. Also digital inclusion denotes efforts to remedy deficits in digital equity. Digital inclusion refers to the activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities including the most disadvantaged have access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

To bring awareness of the importance of digital inclusion of older persons, it is necessary to identify the struggle of older persons with reduced reactivity which makes it harder for them to keep up with fast paced technology. Age itself is not a barrier to using digital technologies although older persons tend to face such barriers such as cost, skills and disabilities. It is important to breach the digital gap in the older population as it will be a welcome initiative in the fight against elder abuse.

Dewdrop Foundation has since been advocating for the rights of older persons in rural communities in Enugu State and Kuchingoro IDP camp in Abuja –Federal Capital Territory (FCT). In our advocacy on the rights of older persons, we have carried out sensitization awareness on the health challenges faced by older persons and how they can receive proper care. We engaged community leaders, stakeholders and family relatives and the community at large where we sensitized them on the challenges of the older persons and best care practices. The primary caregivers were also impacted with the proper skill set needed through our City and Guilds UK vocational training.

On this day and every day, we must acknowledge that all people, regardless of their age, have their role in society and should not be excluded or discriminated against due to their perceived ability. We encourage everyone to connect with and carry along the older generation in your community to unearth and tap into the talents and digital knowledge they have to share and contribute to creating a more inclusive and sustainable world.