Maria Gabriela, 90, Brazil: Backed by the law

Maria Gabriela, 90, thinks that older people's situation is getting better. Maria Gabriela, 90, thinks that older people's situation is getting better. (c) Interage Consulting in Gerontology Brazil is one of 18 countries in the world that have approved age-specific legislation since 2002. The 2003 Law for the Protection of the Rights of Older People (Estatuto do Idoso) makes it mandatory to report any violations of older people's rights and has resulted in many improvements.

"The situation has changed since the law was approved"

Maria Gabriela, 90, from Rio de Janeiro is one older person who has noticed the difference the law has made. "The situation has changed for older people since the law was approved," she says. "The law has given us strength to complain about things that were wrong. Now we are supported by the law. We can demand our rights."

"The law has helped to change the way society sees older people," she says. "Older people are better respected these days. We now have special queues, special tickets and priority services.

"I used to avoid going to the bank. I kept my money at home. We older people did that because we couldn't face waiting at the bank for hours. Sometimes we just gave up and went home because the lines were too long, but now there are priority lanes for older people."

"We need to end the separation between older and younger people"

Maria feels that the rights now enjoyed by older people are also helping to improve relationships between the generations. "We need to end the separation between older and younger people," she says.

"Younger people are starting to better understand older people. They are learning that we also have the right to sing, to dance, to talk."

A new rights-based culture of ageing

HelpAge is working with national governments and the United Nations to get older people's rights better recognised as they have been in Brazil.

We are calling for national legislations to end age discrimination, as well as for a special rapporteur on the rights of older people and a convention on the rights of older people.

Developing a new rights-based culture of ageing and a change of mindset and societal attitudes towards ageing and older persons is a core recommendation of Ageing in the Twenty-First Century: A Celebration and A Challenge.

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