Campaign for legal protection for older people in Mozambique gathers momentum
On 24 August, around 20 older people made clear demands for legal protection of their rights to the District Government in Boane, Maputo province. This event was part of a bigger campaign organised since 1 June 2012,by the Forum de Terceira Idade (FTI), a national forum of older peoples associations.
Bringing evidence from community consultations with older people in their district, the campaigners presented demands for the following:
• Free health care and medicine
• Universal social protection
• Housing with dignity
• Legal protection against abuse especially when perpetrated by government officials
• For the state to take full responsibility for ensuring older people's rights are respected and their basic needs are met
The group followed the ensuing discussion with a piece of dynamic theatre that drove home the message that protection begins at home, where most abuse takes place. They also asserted that the government has a clear role to create a safe environment and intervene in support of victims of abuse.
Protecting the rights of older people
The campaign organised by FTI supplements the government's own consultations on the content of a Bill to Promote and Protect the Rights of Older People
The first step has been to inform older people of the proposed bill and organise community consultations and local meetings in five provinces led by older peoples associations. Discussions from these consultations were presented to local and provincial governments and collected at national level by the Forum da Terceira Idade. Together with an analysis of the proposed law by a friendly legal expert, the community consultations informed the content of the key campaign messages.
The key messages are being circulated widely, through TV and radio spots, press breakfasts and meetings, written communications in the press, posters and leaflets and even a photo exhibition to be held over the next few days. There have been some excellent articles in the media, with strong evidence and suggestions for action. A strong and inclusive position paper will also be submitted to the government with suggestions for improving the proposed bill in October.
Parliamentarians have joined the campaign meetings and the government has been receptive to the ideas of the older people. In Boane for example, the District Government spokesperson agreed with the demand for free medicine and health care and the request for a specific section within the judiciary to support older people victims of abuse.
On 13 September at the National Conference on Ageing, the government will unveil their final draft of the bill which will be presented to the Council of Ministers and if approved will go before parliament. Even if the content of the bill is satisfactory, pressure will need to be kept up to ensure that it remains on the table. If the bill does not meet demands then more pressure will be needed to get the parliament to redraft the bill. Either way, there is still much to do.
HelpAge has provided technical support and the finances necessary to pay for additional technical skills, for the consultations across the country, the meetings, and the visibility. The availability of funds at the right moment has been critical to the achievements to date.
In carrying out the activities of the campaign, it is clear that the capacity of partners has been built over the last few years: with older citizens monitoring bringing out evidence and analysis of older peoples situation; media contacts and relationships developed; expansion of the number of partners in different provinces and finally the skills of "theatre for development" being used in such an innovative way to present the case for protection as part of the campaign.
Keeping the momentum going
We hope to continue supporting FTI and other partners in this campaign, with support from Irish Aid. We need to ensure an adequate law that has teeth and traction to achieve older people's rights in Mozambique.