Twenty leaders of older people's associations from Asian countries and HelpAge Network members have called for G20 action to build societies for all ages.
Leaders of community-based organisations of older people met in Hanoi, Vietnam, in early November. The event was organised by HelpAge International and co-hosted by the Vietnam Women's Union and the Vietnam Association of the Elderly, and funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies and HelpAge Korea.
HelpAge Korea President Mr Cho Huynse said:
"The Seoul G20 summit is a historic opportunity to heed this call from older people across Asia, and put its backing into a concrete and costed anti poverty programme. This must be based on the priority directions of the international forum on social protection.
"Taking action now in support of the call of older people leaders of Asia will be a significant step in alleviating poverty and narrowing the development gap, essential to achieving sustainable global growth."
United voices call for regional priorities
The event brought together older people leaders from Cambodia, China, India, South Korea, the Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. They shared their experience and called for their governments to take action on ageing.
This action should include supporting and recognising older people's contributions to children, grandchildren and to the common good of their countries.
The delegates called for legislation to secure older people's right to social security, emphasising their need for regular income, secure access to health services and low interest credit.
In particular, they called for:
- extended coverage of existing social security schemes with lower age thresholds
- free healthcare services
- guaranteed access to low interest credit
- recognition of their work as farmers and carers.
Older people taking a lead role
The Hanoi meeting was the first time leaders of older people's associations within the HelpAge Network in Asia met to learn from each other. Older people themselves took a lead role in the discussions and presented inspiring examples of older people's association models from their own countries.
"I am very happy with the opportunity to participate in the event and feel a much closer link with other older people's associations in the region," said Ms Sang-Geum Pak, 83, from South Korea.
Sharing the success of Vietnam's self-help clubs
Meeting participants went to visit an older people's self-help club in Thanh Hoa province, a three-hour drive from Hanoi. The 320 clubs are supported by Atlantic Philanthropies and run by Vietnam Women's Union, HelpAge's main network partner in the country.
Club members invited the visitors to join their regular meeting and see their self-help activities for themselves. The older people shared success stories of the clubs' small business scheme.
Older people's association leaders also visited older people in the province to see how the self-help clubs benefit older people and their communities. This included a homecare project where volunteers provide medical and practical help in older people's homes.
One participant from Myanmar said: "I cannot wait to tell my older people's self-help group members back home what I have seen and learnt here.
"I want to discuss with them an opportunity to replicate proper activities in the country. Thank you for giving me a chance in sharing and connecting with other older people's associations in the region."