This collection of writings and speeches was delivered and written over the course of the twenty-three years in which I represented my country at the United Nations. It reflects my efforts to bring to public attention the potential as well as the needs of older people, particularly older women, in our Third World. My aim was and is to replace the stereotype of helpless, pitiful elders with a truer picture — of people who could contribute to, and enrich society. Given the worldwide aging of populations and limits on available resources to deal with it, our recognition of that potential is imperative.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Alvarez attended college in the United States. She married Dr. Eduardo Alvarez and raised four daughters. They moved to the U.S. in 1960 to escape the rule of the dictator, Trujillo. She administered her husband's medical practice and, in 1978, became a diplomat, representing the Dominican Republic at the United Nations. There she championed the cause of women and the elderly, especially in the Third World, and was instrumental in getting the UN to pass its Principles on Older Persons and establish an annual Day Of Older Persons and, in 1999, A Year Of Older Persons.