Five years of Age Demands Action in Kyrgyzstan
On 12 October this year older people in Kyrgyzstan celebrated the UN International Day of Older Persons for the fifth time!
They met key government representatives at a national conference in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.
Speaking passionately about their issues
Older people from different regions spoke passionately on issues that affect them. These included:
- older people being more involved in local self-governance processes,
- the state of healthcare accessible to older people,
- the economic vulnerability of older women in rural areas,
- the problems older people face as carers of grandchildren and other family members,
- and domestic violence against older people, in particular women.
Unfortunately, not all government members and MPs who were invited attended the event, even though they listened to our initial concerns, promised to promote them in their work and share them with colleagues.
Making pensions more accessible
In response to the issues raised, government members informed campaigners about changes in the legislation on local self-governance. This means older people have more say in determining who is eligible for a pension. Additionally, pensions have been increased twice this year and there are plans to modernise the pension system.
The Government is now considering changing the way pensions are delivered: Currently this is done through post offices and postmen, whereas the Government is suggesting that local bank branches in each region be responsible.
The Government Social Fund also plans to increase pensions by 100% by 2014 so that they meet minimun subsistence levels.
Law for Older People
Overall, we made some definite progress in securing better living standards for older people. Indeed, a Law for Older People was adopted by the Kyrgyz Parliament in July 2011. We now also have a committee on equal rights in the Parliament.
There is still a lot to work on though. Kyrgyzstan's strategy on social protection still discriminates against older people and, as a result, it was agreed at the conference that we need to improve the situation.
In the evening, all the participants from the conference were invited to enjoy dinner, cultural performances and music.
Leaders and members of older people's groups turned out to be very active not only in implementing and monitoring programmes, but also through their enthusiasm, singing and dancing.
I hope the older citizens will remember the gala evening for a long time to come and are proud of being part of this important event where they were listened to and their potential and expertise is valued and respected.