Thousands of older people have marched, protested and lobbied decision-makers across the world to expose ageism, marking International Day of Older People (1 October).
Ageism is everywhere but in low-and middle-income countries, older people face daily discrimination and are largely invisible. This was a rare opportunity for their voices to be heard.
HelpAge International’s Age Demands Action campaigners also ran events, meetings and productions. In Palestine, older people expressed their experiences of ageism in a theatre production. Meanwhile in South Africa, hundreds of older people met to discuss forced retirement. And in Tanzania, older people and partners campaigned for a universal pension and an end to older people being killed, including older women accused of witchcraft.
Ageism leaves people excluded, considered different, restricted in what they can do or simply treated like they don’t exist. It means older people are often at risk of violence, are excluded from health services and face disproportionate levels of poverty.
“A car hurt me and both of my legs were damaged, one was completely lost. I was taken to the hospital then after when I went to claim to the insurance company where I was told that there is no compensation for a person at my age as I’m expired and finished. I feel very bad, diminished, devalued, useless and I have no right to justice, my voice is not heard,” said Vincent Karasanyi, a campaigner from Rwanda.
Jemma Stovell, Campaigns Manager from HelpAge International said: “Ageism is all around us. It can be subtle and is often seen as normal, rarely being challenged. Older people deserve to be treated with dignity, to have their voices heard, to feel safe and to have access to essential services. Just like everyone else.”
For the first time in human history people over 60 are the world’s fastest growing population group[i]. By 2050, one in six people will be over 65[ii]. It is everyone’s responsibility to call out everyday ageism at a global, national and community level.
Margaret Kabango is a 76-year-old activist who has helped to develop and implement policies which protect older women in Uganda. She said: “I want to see older women included in more policies, programmes and campaigns, so they can also access essential healthcare services and have the tools, confidence and knowledge to seek help when needed. After all we are all ageing and God willing, young girls will be older women too one day.”
Download high-resolution photos from the marches and events here:
Contact HelpAge International for interviews, more information and additional quotes:
- Emma Swain, HelpAge International, firstname.lastname@example.org 0447800 655 046
Available for interview:
- Jemma Stovell, Campaigns Manager from HelpAge International
- Justin Derbyshire, HelpAge International CEO
- Margaret Kabango, Ugandan ageism activist
About HelpAge International
HelpAge International is the secretariat to a global network of organisations promoting the right of all older people to lead dignified, healthy and secure lives. It is the only global movement for older people.