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Activists at the EU in support of older people

10 Oct 2012

Me, Mama Rhoda (in the middle) and other activists from the Czech Republic at the EU in Brussels!On 4 October, I attended the “Age-friendly EU development cooperation” meeting that took place in the European Parliament in Brussels. With me were several other Make it Ageless and Age Demands Action activists from the Czech Republic and Kenya.

The meeting raised several crucial issues. A speech by Mama Rhoda, there as a representative of Age Demands Action activists from Kenya, was in my opinion the most memorable part of this gathering. She made the long trip from Kenya to speak to members of European Parliament on behalf of people over the age of 60 in developing countries.

Older people must be included in post-2015 EU development policies

We, the Make it Ageless activists, are campaigning in Europe so older people like her are included in post-2015 EU development policies. Her presence made the content of the meeting much more real and personal and not just another abstract discussion about groups of people or policies.

Although all the issues that were discussed came with some kind of conditionality, for example the verb used the most was “should”, not “will”, the response was quite positive and optimistic. It seemed as though we were being heard. For now.

What was going through my head was somehow connected to another discussion I had with a group of Age Demands Action activists in Slovenia just before leaving for the meeting in Brussels.

According to Slovenian legislation, children have an obligation to financially support their parents in case they are not able to support themselves. Interestingly enough, this right is rarely exercised by parents who find themselves in difficult situations and the pressure automatically falls on a social security system that isn’t able to provide for everyone anymore.

Older people strengthen communities

On the other hand, we have a situation in developing countries where people depend a lot on informal social security, such as parents, grandparents, friends, neighbours etc… This system is far from official and manifests itself through people like Rhoda, who do what they can but always want to do more to help others.

In summary, “we” - in Europe - should, but we mostly don’t. “They” - in places like Kenya - want to, but they mostly can’t.

People like Rhoda have a sense of responsibility for their communities; they know that by supporting those who are part of their extended social network they make the entire community stronger. By including them in post-2015 EU development policies and programmes we can help them help others.

Find out more about our event in Brussels at the European Parliament.

Find out more about Age Demands Action.

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Author profile

pela Breceljnik
Country: Slovenia

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