Human rights for older people

Around the world 10 December is recognised as UN Human Rights Day, and this year HelpAge International, a rights-based NGO helping older people claim their rights, is calling for more.

Toby Porter, Chief Executive at HelpAge International says, “Discrimination against men and women on account of their older age is one of the last remaining forms of prejudice to be tackled on a global basis.”

Yesterday, HelpAge International wrote to governments around the world and ask them to make solid proposals to protect older people’s rights. The goal is to create a new UN convention which focuses on challenging age discrimination; helping to tackle human rights violations experienced every day by older women and men.

Discrimination of older people happens all over the world, but there are organisations committed to fighting against it.

According to HelpAge International’s Global AgeWatch Index, a third (35.5 per cent) of all Australians over 65 years are living in property, and with an estimated 533,000 women over 65 living under the poverty line, it’s clear something has to be done, and soon. A massive 83 per cent of people over 65 years of age receive some form of pension, yet Australia has the lowest ranking (61) in its region for the income security domain.

Margaret Kabang, a campaigner for Age Demands Action in Uganda, will also be writing to governments, along with others from Age Demands Action, proposing better laws. She says that older people in the country are accused of being witches, get pushed aside in queues and have their health concerns dismissed as “just a sign of old age”.

These government proposals will be presented to the UN General Assembly next September.

Read more at HelpAge International.

Opinion: Not just one day

UN Human Rights Day occurs to remind us that our global society has a long way to go before we can claim to live in a fair and equitable world, where everyone shares the same rights regardless of their age, sex, ethnicity and geographic location.

All over the world, older people experience discrimination in various forms – whether it is being accused of being a witch in Uganda or having the local bus or the tram in Melbourne close its doors on you before you get the chance to get off.

In Australia discrimination of older people, women and those with a disability, is widespread, but because it is ingrained in society, it goes largely unnoticed. The Age Discrimination Act aims to ensure that Australians of all ages are treated fairly and have equal opportunities. However, discrimination against older people happens every day in a myriad of small ways, and thus far, no one has been prosecuted for discriminating against an older person.

This year’s slogan, Human Rights 365, incorporates the idea that every day is Human Rights Day. The important thing to recognise is that our journey towards total human rights for everyone is not finished. Let us recognise the daily struggle of those here in Australia and around the world, and let us do something to those organisations which are committed to ending discrimination.

Age Demands Action has put together a petition for a new UN convention, which will tackle issues of violence and abuse on older people and discuss way in which older people’s rights can be better enforced in the global society.

Sign the petition here.

Written by ameliath