(c) HelpAge International By Rachel Trayner
On 1 October, the UN International Day of Older People, will be celebrated around the globe by the 5th anniversary of Age Demands Action, the worldwide grassroots campaign jointly organised with HelpAge International by older people, for older people.
Since 2007, the movement has grown from 26 to the 59 countries on board and ready to demand real action and change in their communities this year.
The grassroots movement allows older people the chance to meet their politicians face-to-face, on a national and local stage, and campaign for change and protection that will help those who need it most.
The need is real and growing. Older people remain amongst one of the poorest and most vulnerable groups in society, with 100 million older people living on less than $1 a day.
- Of the current total world population of over 6.9 billion, 793 million people are aged 60 and over.
- By 2050, the over-60 population is predicted to be just over 2 billion
- Every month, one million people in the world turn 60
- By about 2015, the number of people over 60 will have overtaken the number of children (0-14).
Five years of positive change
Age Demands Action has spent five years making positive changes for older people who are often marginalised from society.
This campaign is for many older people, a lifetime opportunity to engage in democratic process.
Older people like Rhoda Ngima, 75, from Kenya:
"We have been removed from a very dark pit and put on the surface where there is light.
"Age Demands Action has made me an ambassador to spread the good news about older people. This year I will go to the Ministry of Finance because I have questions that need answers. I will be the voice for the older people in Kenya."
This year, older people will demand: better social protection policies from governments, improved access to healthcare, meeting the Presidents of Slovenia, Nepal and Mozambique, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and speaking at the United Nations in New York.
Other highlights of this year's Age Demands Action 2011 campaign include:
In the Philippines, Age Demands Action campaigners will be calling upon the Department of Social Welfare to stop excluding the most marginalised older people from the 2010 Social Pension Bill. The Bill was a victory to ADA campaigners, who have be calling for change since 2007, enabling over 5 million older people to access country's social pension. This year, older people will challenge the government to put all older people on the list of pensioners, which will enable over a million people above 60 to claim a pension for the very first time.
In Bolivia a Bill protecting older people from abuse went through parliament after a meeting between Age Demands Action campaigners and the Ministry of Equal Opportunities.
In Albania, a delegation of older people are planning to meet the Focal Point for Ageing at Ministry of Social Affairs and ask about the progress on the draft Law on Ageing. They will urge the government to speed up the process as well as to explore possibilities for a continuous communication with older people groups regarding the content and monitoring of the Law and Ageing Strategy.
Richard Blewitt, Chief Executive of HelpAge International, commented: "Over the last five years I have been privileged to see what a difference Age Demands Action has made: from Ghana's first ever national ageing policy, to an increase in the Old Age Allowance in Sri Lanka or a Law for the Elderly in Vietnam.
"With such progress, we should take time to reflect on International Day of Older People, that this inspiring and growing section of our global society, still remains among the poorest and most at risk.
"As a result of not being explicitly mentioned in any Millennium Development Goals, policies and programmes overwhelmingly focus efforts on children, young people and the working-age poor, ignoring the critical contribution older people make everyday.
"Many poor older people have to continue working past retirement age to support themselves and their families. In some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, 80% of men and 70% of women over 60 work for a living.
"Age Demands Action is calling on all governments and international donors to put older people higher up the development priority list."
Age Demands Action is the first global campaign of its kind, launched in 2007 by HelpAge International.
Support for Age Demands Action
- Age Demands Action is supported by figures such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu; the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams; Sarah Obama, the step-grandmother of President Barack Obama; and Prof. Miriam Were, the Hideyo Noguchi Africa prize laureate.
- You can support the Age Demands Action campaign by signing an open petition.