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How can Europe lead the way?

28 Nov 2011

Over the last two years, citizens across Europe have been exchanging messages with older people in developing countries, making their voices heard and showing solidarity through our "Europe Lead the Way" campaign. 

The campaign is gaining momentum in Europe. Young and older European citizens are calling for European leaders to support older people through the European Union’s development aid programmes.

Voices of older people

There has been a shift in attitudes in Europe as a result our campaign which enables older people in developing countries and EU citizens to talk via a video dialogue on our website. 

Across a wide range of countries, citizens are talking and exchanging stories about the challenges and issues older people face in developing countries after watching videos from older people themselves, such as Paul, Josephine and Rhoda.Philomenia Maingi is one of the Kenyan activists in conversation with European campaigners

Here is what some of our European campaigners said about the videos:

Ms Lorencova, 76, from the Czech Republic: "I am happy to learn from your videos about your life in Kenya. I am impressed by your message; be sure that we all feel solidarity towards you."

Jasna Toplak from Slovenia said: "I have been speaking to the courageous Josephine who leads by example."

Ms Ria Zondag, 83, from the Netherlands added: "This has touched me in particular because I believe that Josephine and people like her are strong. I feel enormous admiration for her. I would not be able to do what she does."

Winning political support

Given the right kind of support (employment, healthcare or pensions), older men and women can make a vital contribution to improving the lives of their families and their wider communities.

As the world’s largest aid donor, the European Union is a leading force in the fight against poverty. Through the Age Demands Action campaign, European citizens lobby their governments and political figures asking them to give older people better allowances so they can live full and secure lives. 

We have already received support from several political leaders, many of whom will be the campaign’s political champions and will help us get the messages across to key decision makers in the EU.

In addition, almost 6,000 people have signed the EU Lead the Way petition, which targets the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy and other key EU decision makers to mainstream ageing into the EU development policy. 

Building intergenerational solidarity

Even though young people today will live through an era of unprecedented ageing across the world, the voices of older people in developing countries remain mostly unheard.

Through the Europe Lead the Way campaign, we are bridging the gap between young and older generations to show that solidarity is important and can make a difference to older people's lives. 

Next year we embark on an exciting campaign to raise awareness amongst young Europeans of the challenges faced by older people in developing countries. Building on their awareness we hope to galvanise support as part of the campaign.

Help us support older people

The campaign has already built support amongst younger people in Slovenia and with people like Walid in the Netherlands.

However we need your support too! Over the course of a year we expect to get over 10,000 young supporters to help us lobby their politicians.

Through political support, citizen action and public awareness, the Europe Lead the Way shows that older people matter. 

Show your support too by signing our EU petition

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Author profile


Barbara Dockalova
Country: Czech Republic
Job title: Campaigns Coordinator

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.