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Happy International Day of Older Persons!

01 Oct 2010

Older people, HelpAge International staff and supporters from around the world have been busy taking part in our annual Age Demands Action (ADA) campaign today, where older people march and lobby politicans to demand they are not excluded from policy making.

It is a very exciting day, where we see older people in action, taking to the streets to demand a better deal for themselves.

The campaign coincides with the UN's International Day of Older Persons.

An ADA campaigner in ColombiaAnd to mark the day - the 20th such event - the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, spoke eloquently about older people's rights.

Her comments brilliantly sum up what HelpAge International and its partners are working for so I wanted to share some of her quotes with you.

Ageing must be accepted, not ignored

She said: "Millions of older people around the world face unequal treatment or denial of their human rights, particularly in relation to their right to personal security, health, social security and adequate standard of living.

"We must all accept the inevitability of ageing. What we must not accept is that old age brings with it lesser access to the full range of human rights.

"In the last two decades the global population profile has changed more than at any time in history. One in every ten people is now aged 60 or more. By 2050, that figure will rise to one in five. This radical demographic shift has caught many policymakers off guard.

"Not very long ago, the issue of ageing was considered a matter of importance for only a handful of countries, but statistics now show that every country is concerned.

"As a result of their invisibility, the human rights of older persons are often neglected. Many older persons are unemployed and abandoned, many others face violence and abuse by relatives or caregivers which in its cruelest forms can amount to torture.

"Older women are among the most vulnerable, some of them homeless or without a right to inherit from their families, husbands or children. The human rights community has also been slow in realizing that the global agenda can no longer ignore the rights of older persons."

Ensure older people have a decent standard of living

Pillay called on Governments to introduce social pension schemes for older people and to adopt adequate measures in such areas as housing, health, transport, access to water and personal security to ensure that they are not discriminated against or left unprotected and that they enjoy an adequate standard of living.

In her message, the High Commissioner also encouraged civil society organizations to become more active on the rights of older people. "Every one of us must prepare for old age," she said.

She summed up by saying that older people are assets to society and can contribute significantly to the development process if given the opportunity. "As such, they need to be empowered and their participation ensured," she said.

We couldn't agree more. Age Demands Action is proof of that older people can contribute to development and achieve change as long as they are allowed to participate.

If you would like to say No to age discrimination and support our older activists who are fighting for a fairer, age-friendly world, you can sign our global petition.

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Author profile

Caroline Graham
Country: United Kingdom
Job title: Communications officer

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