Rights policy

We live in a deeply ageist world where we are marginalised, excluded, discriminated against and denied our rights because of our older age.

Nziku from Tanzania was discriminated against because of her age. Nziku from Tanzania was discriminated against because of her age. (c) Jeff Williams/HelpAge International

This discrimination can be complex, based on more than one factor such as age and gender, race or disability.

Existing human rights treaties and conventions do not adequately address this discrimination or protect our rights in older age.

What we want

We are working to convince policy makers to protect and promote human rights and eliminate discrimination in every aspect of our lives in older age through:

  • National legislation and policies that prohibit age discrimination and protect human rights in older age.
  • Better state reporting on rights in older age under existing human rights treaties and mechanisms.
  • Human rights mechanisms dedicated to the rights of older people including a new international human rights convention that prohibits discrimination and protects and promotes human rights in older age.

Our impact

  • Appointment of a new Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons in May 2014.
  • Our Affiliates and partners aside their concerns about rights in older age with the Independent Expert on her country visits to Slovenia and Mauritius.
  • Our submissions of evidence, presentations and facilitation of older people's participation in the UN Open-ended Working Group on Ageing has helped convince Member States that there are significant gaps in the protection of older people's rights.
  • The UN Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, on the right to health and on human rights and extreme poverty have included our recommendations on older people's rights in their reports to the Human Rights Council.
  • Submissions of our evidence to the committees that monitor human rights treaties on women's rights and economic, social and cultural rights and to the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review have resulted in recommendations to governments on what they can do to better protect older women and men's rights in Cambodia, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Mozambique, Tanzania, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Uganda and Moldova.
  • The Committee on the Elimination of the Discrimination Against Women took into account the experiences of the older women we work with in their General recommendation No. 27 on states' obligations towards the rights of older women.

Striking facts

  • In Peru in 2012, 83% of the older people we surveyed reported experiencing at least one form of violence and abuse in the last 12 months. In Mozambique it was 74% and in Kyrgyzstan it was 35%.

  • In Peru, 30% of the older people we surveyed said they had been refused medical treatment because of their age.

  • In Mozambique, 27% of the older people we surveyed said they had been refused a loan and 30% said they had been refused work because of their age.

  • In Mozambique, 51% of the older people we surveyed and in Peru 45% said that other people look down at them or treat them in a humiliating, shameful or degrading way.

Source: HelpAge International, The human rights of older people: panel, survey and key findings for Peru, Mozambique and Kyrgyzstan, 2012

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