International Day of Older Persons is being observed today on 1 October to create awareness regarding the rights of senior citizens in the society. A national level research study reveals that human rights of older people are neglected in Pakistan.
Ageing is under strong focus of international development now. It is clearly recognized in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which call for leaving no one behind, and ensuring that development goals are met for segments of society, at all ages young and the old. Ageing cuts across the goals on poverty eradication, good health, gender equality, economic growth and decent work, reduced inequalities and sustainable cities.
Therefore, it is essential to address the exclusion and vulnerability of older people in the implementation of SDG's; it is more important for older persons to be recognized as the active agents of development. Ageism is defined as 'Stereotyping and discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age; ageism can take many forms, including prejudicial attitudes, discriminatory practices, or institutional policies and practices that perpetuate stereotypical beliefs. Stereotyping people because of their age is unacceptable, it should be changed. Older people rights should be recognized as the human rights.
Pakistan is party to a number of human rights treaties which talk about the rights of older people, which include, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (2010), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2008), Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2011), Convention against Torture (2010), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1996) and Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (1966).
Pakistan is also a signatory to the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing 2002 which calls for older persons to have secure income, access to healthcare, a safe place to live, and an opportunity to participate in the community. Pakistan conducted its first ever national level research study to better understand the challenges facing older people in Pakistan. The study which was done by Help Age International with support of British council revealed that human rights of older persons are neglected in Pakistan.
The research study titled Moving from the Margins: Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Older Persons in Pakistan, was led by Dr Asghar Zaidi, Professor in International Social Policy at University of Southampton. Qualitative and quantitative data collection was collected from all four provinces of the country. The completed report will be launched later in the year. Initial findings of the study show that close to 20 percent of older persons in Pakistan struggle with their everyday basic needs of food and shelter.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2017