EU and HelpAge International launch a new project to counter harmful traditional practices and discrimination against older people

Tuesday, 02 May, 2017, Mwanza: Today the European Union to Tanzania and the East African Community (EAC), together with HelpAge International have launched a new two-year project to 'Strengthen Civil Society Voice and State Responsiveness and Accountability to Protect Older Women and Men from all Violence in the Lake Victoria region of Tanzania.  The event was held in Mwanza and the Regional Commissioner, Hon. John Mongella was the guest of honour.

During the ceremony Hon. Mongella reiterated the government’s commitment to continue working with all stakeholders to ensure all forms abuse and violence against older people and people with albinism are brought to an end.

"The government will use all resources at its disposal to promote and protect the rights of people of all ages including older people and people with albinism," he said.

"These acts damage the reputation of our country and we will surely not allow these shameful acts to continue. I ask members of the community and all our security organs to provide security and ensure all perpetrators of violence against these groups of people face the full wrath of the law."

The European Union supports the project with EUR 505,752 (approximately TZS 1.2 billion) to strengthen the role and participation of the civil society, community groups and government institutions to prevent and address different forms of violence against older people. This includes addressing discrimination and abuse due to, among others, witchcraft accusations against older people, particularly older women in rural Tanzania.

It comes soon after the successful completion of a similar EU funded project: promoting and protecting the rights of older women in Mwanza region (2014-2016). The achievements of the project include older-women's better understanding of their rights; notably inheritance and property ownership, and being able to claim these rights.

"The project has taught me about my human rights and why they are so important. I have written a will to protect my property from land grabbing," said Christina Kalango, 76, from Tanzania’s western district of Magu.

"I have also written a memoir so that my children know their family history and where they come from. All of this would have been lost when I died, but I'm leaving behind a legacy now," she added. 

Older people all over the world face different forms of abuse, whether financial, physical, psychological, sexual, material or general neglect. But interventions like these are playing an important role in creating awareness and safeguarding the rights of older people.

"It is therefore in this regard that as we launch the new project, we are also celebrating the achievements of the just ended project," said Smart Daniel, HelpAge Country Director in Tanzania.

"It is owing to the previous project that older women now demonstrate increased confidence in challenging customs that smack of inequality- this is indeed a positive development," he added.

Speaking during the launch, the Head of the European Union Delegation to Tanzania and the East African Community (EAC), Ambassador Roeland van de Geer said "Women as well as men experience discrimination on the basis of older age. However, older women are particularly vulnerable, to gender-based discrimination which is worsened by age, widowhood, illiteracy and overall poverty levels. In Tanzania, older women are often victims of witchcraft killings for reasons of inheritance and land rights. Thus, we need to implement a comprehensive legal and policy framework to end discriminatory practices related to customary ownership and inheritance of land. The project envisions to improve the attitudes, behaviours and practices of rural communities towards older women, older men and persons with albinism; and protect these groups from all forms of violence."

The project activities will also add voice to the older people’s campaign which aims to persuade the government to legislate the 2003 national ageing policy which outlines the state’s commitment to the rights and protection of older people in the country.

-ENDS-

Background:

About the Delegation of the European Union to Tanzania and the East African Community

The Delegation of the European Union to Tanzania and the East African Community is a key actor in the relations between the European Union and Tanzania as well as the East African Community. In close coordination with EU Member States’ Heads of Missions, its role is to:

  • Share the values and interests of the European Union;
  • Promote fundamental rights, good governance and accountable democracy;
  • Support Tanzania's development agenda and sustainable development goals for a better life for all ;
  • Stimulate inclusive growth, private sector and job creation;
  • Foster regional peace and stability, economic integration and trade development. 

About HelpAge International:

HelpAge International helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives. Our work is strengthened through our global network of like-minded organisations - the only one of its kind in the world.

For more information please contact:

Susanne Mbise – EU Press & Information Officer
Susanne.MBISE@eeas.europa.eu / 0754323245

Henry Mazunda - HelpAge International Communications Officer
Henry.Mazunda@helpage.org / +255 743 573 696 

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