As technology permeates our everyday lives, we see that the digital divide is exacerbated by lack of high-speed Internet connectivity, and that products and services are not designed by the people who actually use them.

In the case of the elderly, they are often not even counted. There is a huge data gap and a lack of sufficiently granular information about the elderly in most national statistics’ compilations.

These were some of the findings by Dr. Claudia Mahler, the UN Human Rights Independent Expert for Older Persons, and a senior researcher at the German Institute for Human Rights.

While technology can make the lives of the elderly easier, at present, according to findings by her predecessor, who visited China and New Zealand in 2019 to write the latest report, that access is very uneven.

The report that was presented at the 45th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, on the 28th of September, by Dr. Mahler, shows that there are huge disparities regarding quality of life and access to new technologies.

This reflects the heterogeneity of the older population worldwide, and the urgent need for national statistics offices to better compile and organize the data on the elderly.

“Without data, there are no sound policies that can be made to ameliorate the quality of life of older persons”, said Dr. Mahler.

Take a listen:

Dr. Claudia Mahler, UN Human Rights Independent Expert on Older Persons

The Open-ended Working Group on Ageing was established by the General Assembly in 2010 to consider the existing international framework of the human rights of older persons and identify possible gaps and how best to address them, including by considering, as appropriate, the feasibility of further instruments and measures. This year (2019), for the first time, the Working Group began to focus its discussions on specific areas in which the enjoyment of human rights by older persons might be affected and require further protection.” Rosa Kornfeld-Matte and Khaled Hassine. | Rosa Kornfeld-Matte is the first Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons. Khaled Hassine is a Legal Officer in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from its inception.