Nine older women and seven older men from ten countries across Africa and Asia have successfully completed our first Global Alliance older activist training programme. The training programme was organised in Rwanda at the end of November with the support of the local NSINDAGIZA organisation and was designed and delivered by colleagues from HelpAge International. The main aim of this training is to nurture a unique civil society movement that is driven by a group of inspiring older activists campaigning for rights in older age and challenging ageism and age discrimination at local, regional and international levels.
There was an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience in the group. At the training our activists, who range in age from 55 to 75, described their individual journeys that led them to take up the fight for human rights in older age. We spent time discussing and learning more about ageism and human rights principles and language. We also talked about the important role that a new UN convention could play in strengthening the protection of older people’s rights and the status of the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) process that is now working towards this. Our activists recognised the crucial role that civil society and older people themselves can play in this process. They analysed their governments’ attendance and participation in previous OEWG sessions and then developed national advocacy action plans and oral statements together.
Speaking about their experience of the training, Bertha, 60, from Tanzania said ‘I have now understood about the OEWG, know how to plan for campaigning for older people using better tactics to influence the government and people in authority to give right to the older people…GAROP has helped to awaken new energy into us.’ Jacob, 70, from India said ‘I have realised the importance and urgency of having a new UN convention on the rights of older people.’
There was a lot of passion and commitment in the group. All of our activists were determined to return home and inject new focus and energy into their national advocacy and campaigning strategies. Many of the participants explained how much they appreciated the opportunity to connect with other older activists from other countries and build a shared identity and vision.
Elijah, 62, from Kenya said ‘I am a fully equipped activist of older people’s right and I have gained the spirit of belonging.’ Ishwori, 63, from Nepal said ‘Now I have the positive feeling that I am fully equipped to campaign successfully and confident to be a sustainable leader.’
In closing the session, Dr Emem Omokaro, the Deputy Chair of the Global Alliance said ‘I am glad to have met all of you, who are working so earnestly and igniting the fire in your corner of the globe to end discrimination against us.’
What is next for our activists?
You will learn more about these individual activists on our website and social media over the coming months. The action plans that our activists developed at the training will drive their campaigning in their ten countries in the coming weeks leading up to the tenth OEWG session from 15-18th April 2019. They will be consulting other older people in their communities to prepare written submissions to the online UN consultation that closes on 1st February 2019. Five of these trained activists will participate in the tenth OEWG session where they will deliver oral statements and meet with their governments’ UN missions. This will bring the voices of older people directly into these international discussions about our rights in older age.
More information about the project
This initiative is part of a Global Alliance project funded by the Swedish Postcode Foundation up to November 2019. The project focuses on ten countries in particular, Bangladesh, Cameroon, India, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Nepal, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The project partners in those countries respectively are RIC, ACAMAGE, Centre for Gerontological Studies, KARIKA, CECAFE, DIS-MOI, Ageing Nepal, NSINDAGIZA, Good Samaritan Social Service Trust, and Uganda Reach the Aged Association. See here for more information about this project.