Older people assemble in Dagoretti, Nairobi to mark the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day marked on June 20, 2018.
Older people assemble in Dagoretti, Nairobi to mark the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day marked on June 20, 2018.

Age Demand Action campaigners gathered in Nairobi on Wednesday urged the government to fast-track the drafting and enactment of the proposed Older Persons Bill so as to safeguard and protect the rights of older persons.

Further, the campaigners said the lack of a framework to protect, safeguard and promote their rights denies them even the very basic rights to participation, autonomy and independence as enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 in regards to non-discrimination, prevention of abuse and ensuring their freedom.

Speaking at the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Elijah Mwega who also is the chairman of Kenya Older Persons People Forum, said the Kenya government has very good programmes like the Inua Jamii cash transfer programme for people aged 70 years and above, the previous older persons cash transfer fund that targeted older people above the age of 65 years and the commitment to register older people with the National Hospital Insurance Fund scheme.

However, said Elijah, all these are not hinged on any firm Act of Parliament. He called for representation of older people at all governance levels as provided by the constitution of Kenya. “Older People have very distinct and unique roles to play in the family and community that other people can never fulfil,” he said.

The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution 66/127, designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It represents the one day in the year when the world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted on some of our older generations. The WEAAD was first celebrated on June 15, 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations (UN).

The purpose of WEAAD is to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.

With a growing population of older people, and as longevity increases, abuse of the older people is an increasing and serious problem that affects the health and other rights, sometimes even leading to the death of older people.

Today, about 38 million people in Africa are over 60 and it is estimated that this will shoot to 212 million by 2050 despite the chronic poverty and the deadly effects of HIV/AIDS other disasters.
Abuse of older people come in many forms including physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse and neglect.

Mr Erastus Maina of HelpAge International said these and the many other hidden challenges are reasons why older people all over Africa are asking their governments to participate at the 9th Session of the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing to be held on 23-26 July 2018 in New York; and the equally important request for the government of Kenya to support the UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons.

The participation of governments and the older people in the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) discussions is key to achieving the UN Convention.

The Convention said Maina will help increase the rights of older people, support them in decision-making. This year, UN meeting is focusing on the urgent need to meet autonomy and independence of older persons in all ways without forgetting urgency to shield them from violence, abuse and neglect.

Currently, older persons say they are not able to make their own decisions in many areas of their lives including finance, employment, management and disposal of their property, who to vote for, where and with whom to live, access to health services, family life and participation in community, voluntary or social activities.

Different people prevent, or interfere with, older people’s autonomy. This includes government and local authorities, policymakers, local leaders, service providers, and family members. Without autonomy and independence, older people lack the voice and in essence their dignity as human beings.

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