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Belgrade, 15 May – On the occasion of the International Day of Families, over 30 participants from relevant institutions and organizations joined the round table discussion entitled ‘Ageing, intergenerational solidarity – past and future challenges’ organized by the Cabinet of the Minister without portfolio in charge of demography and population policy, in cooperation with the UNFPA Serbia, the office of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality and the Red Cross of Serbia. In addition, members of three national councils (Council on the Rights of the Child, Council for the Elderly and Council for Intergenerational Cooperation) attended the round table.

In the context of the UN Theme for the day: “Families and Climate Action: Focus on SDG13”, the round table discussion entailed various topics and issues relevant to families, including economic and demographic processes that affect it. Special attention was given to the ageing of the Serbian population, the rights and needs of elderly citizens, the availability of services, as well as the role and needs of the ‘sandwich generation’ alongside intergenerational exchange and cooperation.

“In Serbia there are just over 2000 families, of which 51% are one-child families, 40% two-child, and only 6,7% have 3 children, 1,1% four children, and 0,4% have five or more children”, stressed Minister Djukić-Dejanović from the Cabinet for Demography and Population of the Republic of Serbia.   

While Serbian population is ageing, research shows that less than 10% of elderly above 65 used social and health services in 2013 (Kenichi Hirosea, Czepulis-Rutkowska(2016), Challenges in Long-term Care of the Elderly in Central and Eastern Europe). The burden of caretaking of the elderly predominantly rests on women, mothers, sisters, wives and daughters, who are often in their reproductive age, but overburdened with work and daily home/family duties, and lacking financial resources. In such circumstances families are reluctant to expand. On the other hand, with increase to 17,3% of single parent families in 2011, caretaking of children is heavily reliant on other family members, namely the elderly. As such, intergenerational cooperation is a crucial step towards patching out generational gaps, and ensuring healthy communities in Serbia, as well as across the European continent. 

“Young people are characterised by their ability and speed, while the elderly are slower but they know the shortcuts. So, if we are to put together the old and the young we have innovation and development” commented Mrs Gordana Bjelobrk, Head of Division of Demography of the Statistical office of the Republic of Serbia. 

In addition to supporting intergenerational solidarity, improving education and mutual understanding, the participants stressed the underlying and all-encompassing emergency to strengthen the ability of individuals and institutions to mitigate, adapt and reduce their impact on the natural environment, while creating effective policies.    

"The elderly are often forgotten at times of emergency or in difficult situations, and together with our partners we are here to ensure that our fellow citizens age with dignity," stressed Marija Rakovic, UNFPA Serbia Assistant Representative, who moderated the discussion.

UNFPA team in Serbia, with its institutional and humanitarian partners, continues to work on supporting initiatives that foster a society where all family members are ensured adequate care, with more focus on intergenerational cooperation and solidarity.