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Age Demands Action in Sri Lanka - Older people push for pension

01 Aug 2011

On the march, over 500 older people take to the streets of ColomboSri Lanka's population is ageing rapidly, 9% are over 60 and by 2041 this will have risen to a quarter of the population.

The existing pension system doesn't guarantee a minimum income for older people to prevent them from living in poverty. The existing pension is too small and no more than 10%-15% of the older population have access to it.

With HelpAge Sri Lanka older people spoke out about the importance of a universal pension scheme through the Age Demands Action (ADA) campaign in 2010.

Older people speaking out

One of our aims for ADA 2010 was to provide older people with a way of talking to the government to raise issues like the importance of introducing a universal pension in Sri Lanka.

We organised sessions where older people could join in and express their views and concerns. The main thing they were worried about is not having access to benefits like healthcare and a lack of a pension.

From this kind of activity, the Minister agreed to submit a paper for a universal pension to the government.

The Chairman of HelpAge Sri Lanka was also appointed as an adviser to the Ministry of Social Services in Sri Lanka. This is a great honour and shows that the work on social services that HelpAge Sri Lanka does is making progress.

Green light for a pension scheme for over the 80s

As a result of our campaigns, we have raised awareness of the issues older people face and the Ministry of Social Services has forwarded a paper to introduce a pension for people over 80 as a first step.

The parliament has given the green light to this paper and hopefully it will be included in next year's budget.

Moving forward

The campaign has helped us recognise the value and importance of working together with the government and general public. We have also learnt that meetings between government officials and older people can have a great impact.

Age Demands Action works best when it is older people themselves that moblise to solve their own issues. Many older people do have good knowledge of their rights, however there are still many that don't and we must ensure that they are informed about their rights and are empowered to claim them.

The big changes we are starting to achieve all begin with empowering older people to speak out. 

Read more about Age Demands Action campaign

Your comments

Alec Guinness

Excellent blog - thank you

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Author profile

Sewwandi Abesekara
Country: Sri Lanka
Job title: Rights and Advocacy Advisor

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