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Rights conference: Speaking out about older people's rights

MUSA marching to promote older people’s rights on 1 October. (c) MUSAThembekile Hlubi is blogging about her experiences promoting older people's rights in South Africa from HelpAge's current conference on older people's rights in Osnabrück Germany:

My name is Thembekile and I work with the Mutande Society for the Aged (MUSA) in Durban, South Africa. I am 68 and proud to be at the helm of MUSA. 

We are an organisation which supports older people in the townships of Durban to access services and pensions and fight for their rights.

A great experience

I am grateful to have the opportunity to participate in the international conference on older people's rights here in Germany. For me it has been a revival, a great experience.

It's been good, not only to be connected to those within HelpAge's network, who are fighting for the rights for older people, but also to join with others to take up the theme of action on human rights.

Tackling the experience of human rights abuse in old age is very real, for me and for my organisation MUSA - it is a daily experience.

Tackling discrimination

Now that I am reflecting, I see that if we keep quiet about what we see and experience, who else is going to do anything about it?

The conference has helped me think about my daily work and how we are going to respond to what to we see every day. It has helped me think about how we must plan how to tackle the discrimination and abuse of older people in local communities.

We have had an international platform to talk about it. The conference has helped us see that together, we can act.

Next steps

When I go back to Durban, I will first report to my Board and then to the South African Older Persons Forum, of which I am a member.

I will recommend that the Forum be vocal on the abuses we see and take the issue to the heart of our government. When we ran our Age Demands Action Campaign on 1 October, the government promised to establish a desk for senior citizens in the office of the President.

I will ask that South Africa's commitment to promote the rights of older people be transmitted strongly to governments in the rest of the world. Hopefully this support will lead to decisive action for a convention on the rights of older people.

Read more on HelpAge's work towards a convention on the rights of older people.

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Author profile

Thembekile Doris Hlubi
Country: South Africa
Job title: Executive Manager, Muthande Society for the A

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