Older People Speak Out about Discrimination and Human Rights

Over 2000 older persons from around the world have shared their views about how older people are being discriminated against and the impact it has had on their lives. The vast majority have said they were treated differently and discriminated against simply because of their older age. For some, being treated differently was sometimes positive. Others describe being ignored, avoided, dismissed and treated with suspicion. “People love us because we are old but think we are incapable of doing things,” remarked an older individual from Mauritius.

Among the most stark and pervasive findings was the feeling of exclusion: from social activities, financial services, political processes, economic life, development activities and leadership positions. As one older man in Korea said, “I easily withdraw from society and I feel shabby.”  The result is that they are denied access to basic services. Even worse, some reported having been subject to abuse and exploitation.

The report, “In Our Own Words”, was put together by the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People (GAROP), of which IAHSA is a member. GAROP is a network of 115 organizations from around the world who have come together to strengthen and promote the rights of older people. As the prospect of a new convention on the rights of older people is debated, the voices of older people need to be heard.

Their responses clearly suggest that a comprehensive and systematic approach to better protection and promotion of older persons’ rights is required. The principles that should guide this approach include: non-discrimination, respect, dignity, autonomy, equality, self-fulfillment, full and effective participation, social inclusion, inter-generational solidarity and recognition of the intrinsic value and worth as a human being.

The full report can be downloaded here.