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Celebration and success in Pakistan on older people's rights

20 Nov 2014

Update 20 November 2014:

We're delighted to announce that legislation has been introduced in Pakistan for the protection of older people's rights.

Khyber Paktunkhwa (KP) assembly has passed “Senior Citizen Bill” on 19 November 2014 in Peshawar. The bill was presented to the assembly on 23 October and it has now been passed.

This is great news not only for older men and women in KP but for every one in Pakistan, as before this there was no legislation to protect older people rights.

This is the first ever law which will now protect rights of older people.

We have been advocating for this for the last three years and the draft of the bill was developed in consultation with the government and older people themselves.

We congratulate everyone from HelpAge in Pakistan, London and South Asia. A special thanks goes to Mr Shakir Hussain, the District President of older people's associations in Nowshera, who has been actively involved in advocating for this law.

Members of Shikarpur older people's association in Age Demands Action rally (c) Federation of older people's association, Shikarpur International Day of Older Persons is celebrated around the world on 1 October. Older people worldwide call for age-friendly services and protection of their rights as part of our Age Demands Action campaign.

This year, the celebration continued throughout October, as International Day of Disaster Reduction (IDDR) also falls on 13 October. This year, the theme for IDDR in Pakistan was "Ageing Population and Disasters".

Older people's rights enshrined in the law

In Pakistan, celebrations for HelpAge and older people's associations started on 30 September. A policy advocacy seminar was organised with the Government of Punjab in Lahore, urging them to approve the Senior Citizen Bill.

Unfortunately, there is no law for the protection of older people's rights in Pakistan and provinces have the power to make their own policies in their respective parliaments. Therefore HelpAge in Pakistan along with older people's associations have been advocating with federal and provincial governments for legislation to protect older people's rights.

The parliamentarians at the seminar gave their full support and stated that the bill will be presented shortly to the provincial assembly for approval.

Success in Nowshera

On 1 October, a great event was organised in Nowshera, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province by older people's associations. Older people in Nowshera celebrated 1 October through walks, rallies, seminars and meetings.

This year they planned a large gathering tMembers of older people's associations greet each other in Nowshera (c) SM Abdullah/HelpAge Internationalo celebrate their success. Indeed, KP is the first province to approve legislation for the protection of the rights of older people.

Older people's associations, with our support have been lobbying the provincial government to this end and finally, in September 2014, the chief minister of KP signed a draft and sent it to the governor for formal approval.

Older men and women across the province were excited to celebrate and at the same time urged the government to make the law formal and start implementing it.

The speaker of the provincial assembly was the chief guest at the event and other members of the provincial assembly, as well as civil society, the media and officials from government departments took part.

Calling for age-friendly services in Sindh

Older men and women in Sindh province also celebrated 1 October by organising an awareness raising walk to highlight the issues they face.

Delegations of older people also met with key government officials, including the district health officer, the deputy high commissioner and district support manager.

Older people called on these decision-makers for age-friendly public transport and health services.

They urged the officials to take concrete actions in order to protect their rights and make services age-friendly.

Older people and emergency responses

In Pakistan, HelpAge is actively engaged in responding to emergencies and disaster risk reduction work. We advocate for inclusive emergency responses and DRR programmes, policies and strategies.

To achieve this, we work closely with government departments at the national and provincial level. We were thrilled when the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) approached us to mark this year's International Day of Disaster Reduction.

We were also delighted when Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif sent out a statement emphasising the importance of including older people in disaster risk reduction polices, programmes and strategies. The Prime Minister also highlighted the need to recognise older people's potential in preparing and responding to emergencies.

The Chairman of the NDMA also spoke about demographic transition and the need to include older people in preparedness plans and programme.

The Ageing & Disability Task Force (ADTF) Pakistan also sent a call for inclusive emergency responses to over 5,000 humanitarians actors including UN agencies.

Find out more about our work on disaster risk reduction.

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Author profile

Waqas Qureshi
Country: Pakistan
Job title: Advocacy & Communications Coordinator

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