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Standing up for older people’s rights on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day!

02 Jul 2012

On 15 June, older people in 26 countries across the world came together to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) as part of the first ever Age Demands Action (ADA) for Rights.

They had two demands; to stop elder abuse and get support for a UN convention on older people's rights, which will be discussed at the crucial Open-ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) meeting in August.

Lobbying governments to attend the OEWG

A march was organised in Haiti as part of ADA for Rights.ADA for Rights aimed to get ministers to attend the OEWG on Ageing in August and at gaining signatures for our petition calling for a convention on older people's rights.

Campaigners met with various government representatives including Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Social Affairs, Development and Justice Affairs.

Through our partners' work, we collected 11,500 petition signatures in Nepal; 6,000 from Thailand; 5,000 from Latin America and at least 1,500 from Central Asia and Eastern Europe. We are also expecting 10,000 more from the Philippines.

Action around the world

In Kyrgyzstan, a photo exhibition highlighting different types of elder abuse was organised to mark the day. It was opened by UN Resident Coordinator, Mr Avanesov, Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ms Derbisheva and ADA leader, Vera Geikina.

2,000 older activists in Indonesia met with the special adviser to the Minister of Social Affairs and ASEAN Focal Point on Social Welfare Development. They successfully secured a commitment that he will attend the OEWG on Ageing. He also promised to use his position to express that Indonesia and eight other ASEAN member states fully support a UN convention on the rights of older people!

Kenyan Chief Justice and Attorney General show their support by signing the ADA petition.In Kenya, 600 activists took part in a march which was followed by meetings with Chief Justice, Hon. Dr. Willie Mutunga and the Attorney General, Hon. Githu Muigai, both of who signed the ADA petition.

Improving existing legal gaps

In Nepal, representatives from our partner NEPAN met with Under Secretary of Ministry of Women, Child and Social Welfare, Mr Surya Shrestha and the Under Secretary to National Planning Commission, Mr Shiv Raj Chaulagain.

They stated the need to improve gaps in existing senior citizen legislation through a Senior Citizens Policy. This would recognise that elder abuse occurs and make provisions to punish the perpetrators. 

In Bolivia, a delegation of older people met with Karina Marconi, Vice Minister of Equal Opportunities and set out their demands. These include the enactment of the National Plan on Ageing and the creation of a human rights convention for older people.

Marches and debates were also held in Haiti, Pakistan and Thailand among others to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Spreading the wordADA activists collect signatures for the ADA petition in Nepal.

Media coverage of campaign events also had a real impact on raising awareness of the issue and ADA for Rights.

In Nepal, NEPAN representatives were interviewed for documentaries, news and radio on the issue of elder abuse.

An empowering radio jingle was also broadcast on various national radio programmes and listened to by 150,000 people, with the words: "Older men and women are part of our lives. My world, your world, it is everyone's world! We must act together to ensure our older people do not face abuse."

The campaign also received extensive media coverage in Kyrgyzstan, with around one million people hearing about the campaign!

Support the campaign!

A new UN convention on the rights of older people would provide governments with a legal framework to protect older people's rights.

We hope to collect 50,000 signatures by the end of July and urgently need your support!

Sign our petition calling for a UN convention on rights of older people.

Read more about Age Demands Action for Rights.

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Author profile

Natasha Horsfield
Country: United Kingdom
Job title: Campaigns assistant

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