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Older campaigners: Building momentum towards the SDGs

01 Jul 2015

Over 22 million people took action throughout May as part of the global action/2015 coalition campaign.

HelpAge organised Action All Ages day on 22 May as part of this worldwide mobilisation. And what a day it was! Archbishop Desmond Tutu supported people of all ages by recording a special video message, emphasising the importance of 2015 for his fellow "oldies".

HelpAge campaign partners in Malawi, Kenya, Mongolia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Bolivia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Nepal took to the streets, and our combined efforts on social media potentially reached around 1.4 million people.

What is action/2015?

action/2015 kicked off at the start of this year, to ensure that we all acknowledge the importance of 2015 as the year to set targets on reducing poverty and creating a sustainable future for all.

Since its launch in January, the campaign has grown from strength-to-strength and is now active in around 140 countries. The campaign is backed by over 1,600 organisations, and by high profile figures such as Malala Yousafzai and Matt Damon. 

Why are we involved?

This year marks the adoption of the new sustainable development goals, designed to change the future of our planet.

But for these goals to be truly sustainable they must include people of all ages, otherwise they will have failed in their objective to "leave no-one behind". We must ensure this message is heard and acted upon.

Action All Ages day highlights

On 22 May, young and older generations stood together and called for people of all ages to be included in future development discussions.

In Kenya, HelpAge and the Organisation of African Youth organised an intergenerational public event, which started with a procession through the streets of Nairobi. On the way to the event the procession stopped to hand a petition to the Ministry of Planning and Devolution.

In Thailand, our affiliate, the Foundation for Older Persons Development (FOPDEV), brought generations together to learn from one another. The young people experienced what it’s like to be older by wearing gloves and glasses to simulate older age, and older people learned about new technology from the youth.

Despite the hardships the country has faced over recent months, our partner Ageing Nepal, took part by visiting an older people’s home and promoting the message ,"leave no-one behind".

The Mongolian Women’s Fund took part in their first HelpAge campaign. Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s video was shown to delegates from 32 national organisations representing other marginalised groups such as youth, ageing and women’s organisations.

Campaigner for older people’s rights, 81-year-old Mama Rhoda Ngima, was interviewed by Deutsche Welle, and urged governments to think of older people. You can listen to the broadcast from 10:40.

There was a lot of buzz around Action All Ages day on social media, with #ActionAllAges trending in Kenya. Bloggers and campaigners live tweeted their events making the day truly interactive. Check out the Storify.

What’s next for HelpAge and the action/2015 campaign?

In just two weeks, 13-16 July, all eyes will be on Addis Ababa in Ethiopia for the Financing For Development conference. This will address how to fund future development, including the implementation of the SDGs. Representatives from HelpAge will attend the event to ensure ageing issues are considered during these conversations.

Then the momentum will reach its peak in New York for the UN General Assembly on 25-27 September when the SDGs will be adopted. Until then, campaigners across the globe, will raise their voices reminding world leaders and society that this is the year to make a change.

You can join our campaigners in keeping ageing issues on the agenda by following us on Twitter and Facebook and sharing our messages. Be part of the journey that found the solution that truly left no-one behind.

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Author profile

Beth Howgate
Job title: Campaigns Assistant

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