Webinar summary: Aging in dignity? A webinar on the impact of the crisis in Lebanon on older persons | ملخّص الندوة: شيخوخة بكرامة؟ ندوة حول تأثير الأزمة في لبنان على كبار السنّ
“Aging in dignity? A webinar on the impact of the crisis in Lebanon on older persons” was held on Thursday 13, October 2022 as part of our Centre’s webinar cycle “The Politics of Social Justice in Lebanon: Between Citizenship, Identities, and Compounding Crises”.
The discussion, introduced and moderated by Miriam Younes (CeSSRA), featured panelists Maya Abi Chahine (consultant and researcher in aging and an advocate for older people’s rights) and Rania Eghnatios (social protection officer at the ILO regional office for Arab States).
Maya Abi Chahine presented a briefing paper she conducted in partnership with HelpAge International and the ILO titled “A Glimmer of Hope amidst the Pain” which examines the challenges faced by elderly people in Lebanon. In this respect, she explained that Lebanon has the highest percentage of aging population in the Arab world, with a rate of 11% in 2020 that is expected to reach 23% by 2050.
Abi Chahine then highlighted that the severe hardships they face are due to the lack of an adequate social protection system in Lebanon. First, she mentioned older people’s urgent need for healthcare, as the NSSF coverage is decreasing with the exacerbation of the crisis, and second, the issue of income security, in which 80% of the older population don’t have access to an old-age pension or an end of service indemnity. In this framework, old people resort to various support channels, mainly work and assistance from family members. These hardships are exacerbated by overlapping vulnerabilities, such as those of elderly Syrian refugees or women. Maya Abi Chahine concluded her intervention by stressing that social protection is a right and not a privilege, and that the crisis may constitute an opportunity to build an adequate social protection system that ensures old-age pension.
Rania Eghnatios then tackled the social protection schemes for older persons before and during the crisis, and the repercussions of the latter on old-age entitlements. Her presentation shed light on the unfair and low old-age coverage before the crisis, and the impact of the crisis that led to the devaluation of the entitlements, savings, and end-of-service indemnities. In this perspective, improving the social security system in Lebanon requires the reform of the end-of-service indemnity schemes and the shift to an old-age pension scheme. Eghnatios referred to the currently discussed draft law amending the social security law provisions and establishing an old-age pension scheme as the only way towards a stable, efficient, and fair system, arguing that in the current crisis-ridden context, a multi-pillar pension model is needed.
The webinar recording is now available and openly accessible on CeSSRA’s Youtube channel here.