Archbishop Desmond Tutu joins HelpAge International's action/2015 campaign to make older people count


Archbishop Desmond Tutu joins HelpAge International's action/2015 campaign to make older people count
Today, (Friday 22 May) Archbishop Desmond Tutu is backing young and old to demand that everyone counts when governments agree global goals to reduce poverty at the UN later this year.

"As we get older our rights do not change. As we get older, we are no less human and should not become invisible," said 84-year-old Archbishop Desmond Tutu in a video released today.

"I want to tell the world that I count, that older people everywhere count and that people of all ages should be included in the Sustainable Development Goals," he said as HelpAge International hosts a global Action All Ages campaign today (Friday May 22) as part of action/2015.

Life expectancy is on the rise and the demographic make-up of the world's population is changing at an unprecedented rate. Today, there are more than 895 million women and men aged 60 and over, representing 12 per cent of the global population. By 2030, this is projected to rise to 1.3 billion or 16 per cent while the proportion of people aged 15-24 will be 15 per cent [1].

May is the month when the global campaign, action/2015, hots up to highlight the importance of all ages in the Sustainable Development Goals being set for the next fifteen years at the United Nations in September and later at the UN Climate Change Conference COP21 in December.

The action/2015 May Month of Action will feature 14 Global Action Days - organised on themes of ageism, child health, faith and climate change, gender equality and hunger and nutrition - as well as hundreds of events including marches, concerts, flash mobs, workshops and debates throughout the month.

"This year decision-makers have the chance to include all ages in their plans for the years ahead," said Toby Porter, Chief Executive Officer at HelpAge International.

"Across the world, from the Philippines to Zimbabwe, we are joining hands with the world's older people, who too often go unheard and uncounted. We want to make sure older people are included in these goals to ensure they are legitimate," he added.

Action All Ages events, to highlight the importance of the SDGs, will be taking place in ten countries around the world. (see list at end)

Singer-songwriter, actress and entertainer, Avril and fellow older musicians from Kenya have developed a campaign song, Hoja Zetu which will be shown at an event on the day in Kenya.

"I want to grow old knowing I will be listened to just as much as anyone else, at any age," said Avril, best known for singles, Mama, Kitu Kimoja and Hakuna Yule.

"I have learnt so much from the older musicians I've worked with on this song. We love what we do because music connects people together. I know, like them I'll be singing into my old age," she said.

Age Demands Action campaigner in Kenya, Mama Rhoda Ngima, in her 70s, will be taking part in the day and said: "Just because I am old does not mean I am not passionate about my rights. I want this year to be the year I am heard, the year I am recognised and the year I am counted."

In Mongolia, the Mongolian Women's Fund, MONES, is planning a "WALTZ DAY" for older women and young people aiming to inspire and mobilise communities and the public to act together for all ages.

In Zimbabwe, an intergenerational panel will be organised to review the success and failures of the Millennium Development Goals and come up with recommendations for the post-2015 agenda focusing on ageing.

In Malawi, older and younger people are organising an intergenerational public debate. Younger and older people will talk about what they hope to see in the SDGs.

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors:


On the day the video will go live at this link on YouTube

Avril and company's song

Desmond Tutu's Action All Ages Statement

As we get older, we do not change. We lose some of our dexterity and physical strength, but our rights do not change. We may have fewer teeth, but we are no less human, and we should not become invisible.

2015 is an important year for us oldies. A pair of United Nations Summits tackling the important issues of our time; poverty, inequality, the environment and climate change are platforms we should embrace and influence. We can show the world who we are, where we fit in, and what we hope to see. We'd like to tell the world that we count, that older people everywhere count! And that people of all ages should be considered when we set our Sustainable Development Goals.

This is not just a matter of concern to my generation. People are living for longer all around the world. By 2050, it is estimated that 21 per cent of the world's population will be over 60. Today's young people will therefore form part of the largest group of older people in history.

No future development goals can be considered legitimate or sustainable unless they include people of all ages, and no one is forgotten and left behind.

I am Desmond Tutu. I am 83 years of age. I am for people of all ages. And I want everyone to count! Join action/2015 and stand with people of all ages!

Available for Interview

Avril is a Kenyan singer-songwriter, actress and entertainer. She was formerly signed to Ogopa Deejays, one of the leading music production and record labels in Kenya. As a singer, she is popularly known for her singles "Mama", "Kitu Kimoja" and "Hakuna Yule". As an actress, she is best known for playing Miss B'Have on Shuga: Love, Sex, Money (2012). Avril's contribution to the Kenyan Entertainment Industry has earned her one Nzumari Award, one Kisima Music Award, one Golden Mic Award and two Chaguo La Teeniez Awards.

Avril speaks Swahili and English.

Mama Rhoda Ngima is a Kenyan activist with Age Demands Action. She speaks Swahili.

All Ages Day in Kenya

Avril will be joined by university students, academics and representatives from the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services along with young people from the Organisation of African Youth. They will discuss why including people of all ages is so important this year for the development goals.

List of countries taking part: Malawi, Kenya, Mongolia, Zimbabwe, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, South Africa, Zambia and Myanmar.

HelpAge International and action/2015

About HelpAge International

The HelpAge network is a unique worldwide alliance of over 100 organisations in 65 countries. HelpAge International helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives.

For more information please visit

Age Demands Action (ADA) is a global campaign that challenges age discrimination and fights for the rights of older people. Over 200,000 people have joined the campaign.

Media Contacts:

Beth Howgate, Media Intern at HelpAge International, +44 (0) 20 7148 7606 beth.howgate.hai

Sarah Gillam, Media Relations Manager, +44 (0) 20 7148 7623 Skype: sarah.gillam.hai


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