By John McGeachy
Last Saturday, people around the world celebrated the UN International Day of Older Persons. However, this was not the only reason to celebrate. 1 October marked the fifth year of HelpAge's campaign, Age Demands Action (ADA). (c) HelpAge Deutschland
ADA is the only globally coordinated campaign led by older people themselves, where they meet politicians and decision makers face to face and demand real change to improve their lives.
Whether it's pushing for pensions in Bolivia or access to healthcare in Burkina Faso, it is older people who decide the issues they want to raise with their governments. This year's ADA was bigger and better than ever, building on five years of past successes and bringing together people who are passionate about older people's rights in 59 countries.
An opportunity to make governments listen
Here are just a few examples of how older people marked Age Demands Action this year:
- In the Philippines, campaigners presented their concerns about the social pension to congressman Arquiza at a press conference organised by our partner, Council of Services of the Elderly. "Age Demands Action is very important to us older people because it's an opportunity to make the government listen to us," said Beatriz, 67, an ADA activist.
- In Fiji, Dr Jiko Luveni, minister for social welfare, women and poverty alleviation met with ADA campaigners. He announced that a National Council for Older Persons would be established and a national ageing policy would be launched in November 2011.
- At an ADA event in Nepal, activists gave a message to the President, Ram Baran Yadav, which called for an allowance to make healthcare more affordable for older people.
Solidarity across Europe
- Across Europe, there were more ADA events than ever. There were festivals in Slovenia and in the Czech Republic, an MEP and Olympic champion joined solidarity runners in supporting older people's rights.
- In Germany, representatives from the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and members of the "German Red Noses" joined campaigners in front of the historic Brandenburg Gate to show their solidarity with older people.
- Campaigners in Albania met the Minister for Social Affairs to demand that older people's associations be involved in drafting and monitoring of the new Law on Ageing.
"Because of ADA, I have the courage to walk with my head held high"
- ADA campaigners in Darfur met members of the Ministry of Welfare and Social Security and were guaranteed that older people would be allocated special seats in over 700 public buses.
- In Haiti, an ADA reception was hosted by the First Lady, Sophia Martelly. Maloir, an ADA activist in Haiti, said: "Because of ADA, I have the courage to walk with my head held high."
- ADA campaigners in Argentina met the mayor of La Plata to follow up last year's pledge to put into action an "age-friendly city improvement plan"
- Activities also took place in cities across Colombia, including the capital Bogata where a collection of photos featuring displaced older people was exhibited.
Finding their voice
"Older people are finding their voice like never before. Even in countries like Myanmar where, until a few years ago, older people would never have dreamed of confronting a politician and calling for change," commented Barbara Dockalova, Campaigns Coordinator at HelpAge, on the strength of this year's Age Demands Action.
She added: "Politicians can no longer ignore older people. They are are breaking down the barriers that have prevented them from accessing their rights for so long".
Age Demands Action 2011 in pictures
Take a look at some images of ADA activities from around the world: