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Why rights matter: ADA campaigners share their thoughts

10 Dec 2011

Campaigners in BangladeshMore than 60,000 older people took action as part of the Age Demands Action campaign in 2011. On Human Rights Day, I wanted to share some of their thoughts about older people’s rights and why they matter to them.

“In joining the ADA campaign, older people are given the chance to air their grievances and demand their rights. By working together, there is a sense of satisfaction when our demands are addressed for the benefit of the poorest older people.”

Paz Basconcillo, 62, Philippines.

Fighting injustice

Many older people feel a sense of injustice about government policy, which can force some of the most disadvantaged further towards the margins. One ADA campaigner in Tanzania said:

“What is the logic in paying a pension to the clerk entering data about cotton produced by farmers and completely forgetting to give a pension to the older people who cultivated the cotton in the first place?” 

Older people are prepared to speak out and challenge the fundamental unfairness of policies which exclude or ignore them. Despite this, the language of rights doesn’t always travel to where it is needed.

All too often unacceptable practices become normalised and resistance seems daunting. However, witnessing their peers taking action as ADA campaigners can not only inspire an older person, but also bring awareness of rights:

“This campaign has taught me that older people have rights which should be respected, not just put on paper, but should be practised by all.”

Rhoda, Ngima, 75, Kenya.

Just the beginning

A first experience of a campaign is rarely the last and is likely to lead to more action. Such commitment and energy is essential to winning change:

We understand that the Government needs our push for things to be done for us, and so we are committed to continue advocating for our rights.”

Etta Okong Rickary, 56, Cameroon.

Parveen Halim, Executive Director of Bangladeshi NGO Bandarban says ADA “is a great initiative to draw the attention of government to the rights of older people”.

Many campaign partners have spent years advocating for older people’s rights and supporting older people as they lead campaigns. And as the campaign expands, more and more organisations are getting involved.

Campaigners at another Bangladeshi partner, the Bangladesh Institute for Theatre Arts (BITA) recently reported:

“The issue of older people's rights is very new in our work. The campaign activities generated immense enthusiasm for older people's rights among people, irrespective of age.”

Please visit our Age Demands Action web pages for more photos and updates.

Lastly, if you haven't already, please do sign the ADA global petition supporting older people's rights.

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John McGeachy
Job title: Campaigns assistant

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