Age Demands Action

Age discrimination and ageism are still commonplace across the world and urgent action is needed to stop it.

Age Demands Action is a grassroots movement of campaigners in 60 countries. Older people meet with decision-makers and lobby their local and national governments to push the issues most important to them, such as pensions and healthcare. 
Age Demands Action campaigners are busy all year round, but focus their efforts on three key dates:

1 October: 10 years of Age Demands Action 

In Mwanza, Tanzania, older women are challenging ageism (c) Clemence Eliah/HelpAge International

(c) Clemence Eliah/HelpAge International

In Mwanza, Tanzania, older women are challenging ageism

Age Demands Action campaigners are celebrating a milestone on 1 October – International Day of Older Persons! For 10 years, ADA campaigners have raised their voices against age discrimination and fought for the rights of older people. 

On this International Day of Older Persons (IDOP), we'll be celebrating how ADA has enabled and empowered older people to take part in decision-making processes affecting their lives, from local and national levels, right up to global forums like the United Nations Open–ended Working Group on Ageing.

This year, the UN theme for IDOP is: "Stepping into the future: tapping the talents, contributions and participation of older persons in society".

But we know older people's right to participate in public and private life is still denied.

"Sometimes I feel sad and lonely, especially when I am told that what is being done is not for me because I am old" - Haybat, Iran, 69

Ageism is a barrier that affects older people being able to participate in all parts of their lives. In workplaces, older people have reported less access to salary increases and promotions, and being forced into early retirement.

And at home, older people may be denied autonomy within the family and blocked from participating in decision-making because of age discrimination.

Participation is a right

Participation in every aspect of public and private life is a fundamental right. On this International Day of Older Persons, HelpAge International and our partners are calling for policymakers to strengthen older people's right to participate in all aspects of life.

What are campaigners doing to celebrate 10 years of ADA?

  • Bolivia: Older campaigners, supported by the National Association of Senior Citizens of Bolivia and Horizons Foundation, will be reaching out to the media to highlight the need for a new UN convention to protect older people's rights.
  • The Philippines: Our partner COSE has organised their annual Walk for Life event to celebrate 10 years of ADA.
  • Sri Lanka: HelpAge Sri Lanka is holding an older people's walk and rally will take place.
  • Tajikistan: The Central-Asia Gerontology Centre is organising seminars with older people to gather information about the impact of ADA on their lives.
  • Tanzania: The Good Samaritan Social Service Trust will organise a tripartite meeting between older people, human rights defenders and the Tanzania Government to discuss human rights issues affecting older people.

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15 June: Age Demands Action on Rights

Older campaigner Kenneth Hemley making an intervention at the UN Open-ended Working Group (c) HelpAge International

(c) HelpAge International

Older campaigner Kenneth Hemley making an intervention at the UN Open-ended Working Group

On 15 June, UN's World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Age Demands Action campaigners come together to call for their rights to be protected.

Responses to the problem of elder abuse are inadequate. Less than one-third of governments worldwide have implemented any sort of strategy to combat this problem. There are no international human rights standards or conventions on freedom from violence and abuse in older age.

For this reason, Age Demands Action on Rights takes place every year on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15 June. It is a key date for older men and women to come together to raise awareness about elder abuse and to campaign on the need to protect their rights under international law. Together, they are calling for their governments to support a new UN convention on the rights of older people.

This year 40 organisations across 35 countries are taking part. Below are examples of what partners are doing to raise awareness about elder abuse:

  • Malawi Network of Older Persons Organisations (MANEPO) is drawing attention to witchcraft accusations using dance, drama and organising a march with a police band to draw in crowds.
  • Ageing Nepal is rallying the community and local leaders with two elder abuse awareness-raising sessions to audiences of different ages, as well as asking people to sign a petition demanding their government to attend this year's Open Ended Working Group on Ageing.
  • In Bosnia and Herzegovina, OSMIJEH has arranged for older people representatives and civil society organisations to meet with the Ministry of Human Rights to discuss older people's fight against discrimination, violence and abuse, and older people will be speaking directly to the media about their experiences.
  • HelpAge's office in Kenya will be focusing on educating younger people about elder abuse through a short film and discussion, with older people sharing their views.

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7 April: Age Demands Action on Health

A younger activist joins up with older people for an ADA on Health march in Thailand (c) HelpAge International/FOPDEV

(c) HelpAge International/FOPDEV

A younger activist joins up with older people for an ADA on Health march in Thailand

On WHO's World Health Day (7 April) Age Demands Action activists around the world campaign for better healthcare. 

This year's theme, from the World Health Organization (WHO), is depression.

We are calling on older men and women to take action to draw attention to high levels of depression among older people. 

Depression and older people

Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer, and it affects 7% of the general older population.

Multiple social, psychological, and biological factors determine a person's mental health at any point in their life. As well as the stress that can affect those of any age, many older people lose their ability to live independently because of limited mobility, chronic pain, frailty, or other mental or physical problems. This can mean they require long-term care.

Older people are more likely to experience bereavement, disability or a drop in socioeconomic status with retirement. All of these factors can result in isolation, loss of independence and psychological distress.

Symptoms of depression in older people are often overlooked, untreated and under-identified because they coincide with other problems or because there is a stigma that surrounds mental health.

What we want decision makers to know

  • Depression is a common mental disorder that affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries.
  • Mental health and emotional wellbeing are as important in older age as at any other time of life.
  • Older people face particular physical and mental health challenges that need to be recognised and tackled.
  • Studies suggest that receiving an income allows older people greater autonomy and can reduce feelings of financial dependency.
  • Tackling ageism within the health sector will be crucial in ensuring increased access to health services for older people, including for depression.

How are partners taking action this year?

This year 56 campaign partners are mobilising around the world and six new partners are joining Age Demands Action for the first time.

  • In Fiji, a delegation of older people will meet with the Minister of Health and host live radio talk shows to discuss depression.
  • In Rwanda, our partner will hold a workshop on depression with older people, health professionals and representatives from residential care centres.
  • In Nicaragua, older people will be meeting with journalists to raise awareness of depression more widely among older people.

Read more about World Health Day and how older people are affected by older people.

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