International Partners Back Ukraine’s Ambition to Create A Society for All Ages


MAY 10, 2024

  • Ukraine’s unique challenge: Ukraine has the world’s largest percentage of older people affected by conflict and displacement, and it’s growing.
  • Strategic importance: As Ukraine moves toward EU membership and recovery, prioritizing reforms that secure the rights and needs of older people becomes crucial.
  • Multisectoral approach needed: Critical reforms in health and care, pensions, and creating inclusive environments demand joint efforts from the Ukrainian government, international donors, civil society, the private sector, and philanthropy.
  • Engagement and Empowerment: It is vital that older people play an active role in shaping the policies that directly impact their lives.

In a landmark meeting with European Union (EU) partners this week, key leaders from governments and civil society rallied support for older people in Ukraine as they came together to endorse the country’s ambition to build a more age-inclusive society.

As Ukraine strides forward in its recovery and aspirations for EU membership, it faces a unique demographic reality: a significant population of older people—the largest in the world affected by war and displacement. As the war persists, the relocation of younger Ukrainians abroad, possibly permanently, is speeding up the nation’s aging process. This places older people at the center of national recovery efforts and underscores their crucial role now and for the future of the country.

On May 8, 2024, representatives of the Ukrainian government, EU institutions, member states, international financial institutions (IFIs), civil society organizations, and directly impacted older Ukrainians gathered online for a pivotal event “Reform, Recovery, and Enlargement – Rebuilding a Society for All Ages in Ukraine.”

Participants discussed social services, health and long-term care, and the creation of an inclusive environment that accommodates all ages. They shared insights into managing demographic changes, emphasizing social dialogue to ensure that older people in Ukraine can live with dignity and continue to contribute to society.

Vice-President for Democracy and Demography at the European Commission, Dubravka Šuica affirmed: “Throughout history, Ukraine has demonstrated a proud tradition of respect for its older citizens who are integral to the social and economic fabric of the nation. And today, I confirm our unwavering support to all Ukrainians together with all the European institutions, EU member states, and friends beyond our borders.”

Ukrainian Minister of Social Policy, Oksana Zholnovych said: “We need to preserve older people’s ability to be socially active, employed, and provide quality medical and social services, including care. We must address these issues together with our European and other international partners. Addressing the issues of longevity and integration, as well as alignment with European standards, are among Ukraine’s top priorities.”

Emphasizing the importance of international cooperation, Swedish Minister for Older People and Social Security, Anna Tenje stated: “We must continue to support Ukraine’s resilience and ability to provide social services, sharing best practices on pension reforms, quality long-term care, and social protection for the welfare of the Ukrainian people.”

Rachel Kean, Social Recovery and Inclusion Lead at the British Embassy in Kyiv echoed the need for aligned efforts: “The UK recognizes the critical role of older people in the recovery of Ukraine, despite being among the hardest hit by the war. We must ensure that their voices are at the heart of modernization, reconstruction, and recovery in Ukraine.”



“Let us work together to build a future where every individual, regardless of age, is valued and empowered

Cherian Matthews, CEO of HelpAge International

HelpAge calls on EU member states and Ukraine’s other international partners to identify technical and financial resources necessary to support efforts for a fully age-inclusive Ukraine.

For firsthand insights, several older people are available to share their stories and experiences with the media.

Oleksandra, 70, lives in displacement in Dnipro, sharing a dormitory room with several other people. She wants to live somewhere she can have more privacy and more independence as the current shelter is not adapted to her mobility needs. Oleksandra has other chronic conditions as well and struggles to afford medicines with her pension.

Olha, 70, has been displaced twice. Since 2022, she has been staying in Novomoskovsk, eastern Ukraine, sharing a room with two other people. Olha’s main problem is her health, most notably her deteriorating eyesight that needs treatment that she cannot afford.

Nataliia, 65, has been living in displacement for ten years. In 2022, she and her family had to evacuate to Chernivtsi, western Ukraine, where they now live in a shelter. Nataliia and her husband both have health problems and have to rely on the daughter’s income to get by as their pensions are too low to cover basic medical needs.

HelpAge representatives are available for interviews to provide insights on the event, discuss the current situation of older people in Ukraine, and outline the way forward in supporting their needs and rights.

Verity McGivern
Regional Representative for Europe, UK

Stefan Stoyanov
Advocacy Manager, Ukraine

Victoriia Panchenko
Program Lead, Ukraine

For more information and interviews contact:
Alex Garvey
Communications Manager

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