Asia Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development, Bangkok
The Sixth Asia-Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development (APFSD) held in Bangkok pledges to leave no one behind. It is a commitment to empower people, reduce inequalities and promote social, economic and political inclusion.
The Sixth Asia-Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development (APFSD) held in Bangkok pledges to leave no one behind. It is a commitment to empower people, reduce inequalities and promote social, economic and political inclusion. This commitment defines the themes of the 2019 United Nations High-Level Political Forum: “Empowering People and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.” At the APFSD, the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on quality education, Goal 8 on decent work and economic growth, Goal 10 on reducing inequalities, Goal 13 on climate action, Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions and Goal 17 on partnerships goal and their interlinkages, were discussed and reviewed in-depth.
Closely related to the work that Tsao Foundation, through its International Longevity Centre Singapore (ILC-S) does is Goal 8 where the Foundation pushes for recognition and inclusion of older persons as a stakeholder and as part of the institutional mechanism; recommends for expansion of work beyond paid work and recognise unpaid and other forms of contributions or productive endeavours like caregiving; and to review inclusion of age as a criteria in stepping up investments in human capital. The other SDG where Tsao Foundation actively participated in the discussion was Goal 10 on reducing inequalities, highlighting the need for social protection for older women; and changes in mind-set for society to push for equal pay between men and women, and to recognise the value of women’s work.
A side event held during the APFSD, “Are Older Women Being Left Behind? The Financial Security of Older Women in Southeast Asia”, jointed organised by ILC-S of the Tsao Foundation, Helpage International and Malaysian Research Institute on Ageing was organised on 29 March 2019. The event aims to showcase and present if existing policies are adequate to the needs of older women and how do these policies relate to the achievements of SDG goals? In addition, what policy interventions require collective regional efforts, and which policies would be more effective at the country level?
The session started with a welcome address by Ms Susana Concordo Harding, Senior Director of International Longevity Centre Singapore of Tsao Foundation, followed by a presentation from Dr Supriti Bezbaruah, Research Fellow of International Longevity Centre Singapore of Tsao Foundation. Dr Supriti shared key messages from the book, “Financial Security of Older Women: Perspectives from Southeast Asia” emphasising the need to reduce the invisibility of older women in policy discussions and to include their specific needs into the discussions on the SDGs; recommends designing gender sensitive pension systems; reduce systemic barriers to women’s labour force participation and lastly, to implement policies and programmes to bring about transformations in societal mindsets on the division of labour that will also recognise the value of women’s unpaid care work.
Complementing the presentation by Dr Supriti, the session proceeded with a panel discussion with Ms Susana Concordo Harding, Professor Tengku Aizan Hamid, Professor and Director at the Malaysian Research Institute on Ageing, Universiti Putra Malaysia, and Ms Vanessa Steinmayer, Population Affairs Officer, Social Development Division of UNESCAP. The discussion was facilitated by Ms Usa Khiewrord, Regional Programme Manager at Helpage International, East Asia/Pacific region.
The session concluded with a general agreement that it is essential that the needs of older women are addressed, and a recognition that unless this happens, older women are likely to be left behind. This would counter the central tenet of the SDGs and therefore, participants agreed that the achievements of the SDGs are extricably linked with the policy needs of older women. In terms of next steps, participants highlighted three main points: the need for more gender and aged disaggregated data; the need for enhanced social protection; and the need to improve women’s labour force participation rates.