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Press Statements and News

 

Press Statement: Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women
1 June 2018

Experts from across Southern Africa attended a meeting at the University Pretoria on 30 May 2018 to explore ways in which more attention can be drawn to the plight of older women in the region, and in Africa. They called for African states to follow the lead of Lesotho, which is on the verge of formalising its ratification of the African Union’s Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa. .

The following picture emerged from the experts’ contributions: Older women are uniquely vulnerable to the compounded impact of ageism, disempowerment and sexism. They face legal, social and structurally barriers that affect their access to health, social protection, protection from violence. They are more likely than their male counterparts to be poor, without pension or health care, socially ostracised and victimised in old age. These issues are exacerbated by the impact of HIV and AIDS on their lives and the increased burden of care of orphaned, vulnerable children and sick family members, and the continued stigmatization of older persons that results in older women being accused of witchcraft. Notwithstanding these critical issues, in many countries in Africa the protection and promotion of the rights of older persons and older women specifically remain inadequate.

The Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria hosted the meeting, which brought together various stakeholders from Southern Africa to deliberate and strategise on ways to enhance the protection of the rights of older persons. The meeting was attended by representatives from the African Union, the Pan African Parliament, the South African Human Rights Commission and the Commission for Gender Equality, government representatives, embassies, civil society and academics from Southern Africa.

The Centre for Human Rights has embarked on a yearlong campaign to highlight the situation of older women in Africa. Part of this campaign is calling on African governments to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Older Persons. This Protocol was adopted in 2016 and requires at least 15 States to ratify it before it can come into force.  Lesotho is set to become the first country to ratify this Protocol, after an announcement in this meeting that it has prepared the instrument of ratification and is in the process of depositing it with the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa. The Centre for Human Rights welcomes this momentous step by Lesotho and joins the call by participants at the meeting for other Southern African States to follow suit and ratify the Protocol. Of particular mention are South Africa and Mauritius, which already have strong social support systems for older persons in place, and Zambia, which is the only country in Southern Africa that has signed the Protocol.

The Pan African Parliament reiterated the call made through its Recommendation on the Rights of Older Person in Africa (17 May 2018) that Member States ratify the Protocol and protect older persons from abuse, neglect and harmful practices. Other important recommendations that came out of the meeting includethe need for greater awareness and information sharing on the importance of the Protocol on Older Persons, amplifying the voices of older persons through movement building and improved collaboration and synergies between civil society and government departments in pushing for the ratification of the Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons.

In addition, the meeting highlighted the important role of Chapter 9 institutions in South Africa, in monitoring the protection of the rights of older person. Participant also noted the important role of families and communities in the promotion and protection of the rights of older persons and in particular older women, calling for the development of social policies that go beyond provision of social grants but which take a holistic approach to ageing that does not only intervene at old age but use a life cycle approach that views ageing as a natural process whose impact is compounded by the experiences throughout one’s life. A life cycle approach is essential, especially with regards to dealing with the impact of gender equality and violence and discrimination whose effects are visible in ageing.

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Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women Southern African experts call on States to enhance the protection for older women
 
 

For further information, please contact:

Patience Mungwari Mpani
Programme Manager, Women’s Rights Unit
Centre for Human Rights
Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria
Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 4525
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.chr.up.ac.za

Press Statement: Pan African Parliament adopts landmark recommendation on the Rights of Older Persons
24 May 2018

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, welcomes the adoption the Recommendation on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa by the Pan African Parliament on 17 May 2018, at its just concluded Sixth Ordinary Session.

This Recommendation is a timely response to an unprecedented change in demographics as the population of older persons grows across Africa. It is estimated that Africa will experience an increase in the ageing population from 64.4 million in 2015 to 220 million by 2050. Persons older than 60 years old experience vulnerabilities related to a wide range of issues such as health care, disparities based on geographic location and social insurance needs. Because of pervasive misconceptions and stereotypes about ageing, older persons in many African countries are isolated, poor, abused and suffer various forms of violence and discrimination. Older persons are victims of ageism, which is a systematic stereotyping and discrimination based on age and physical appearance. As the HIV epidemic caused life expectancy decrease, many older persons, particularly older women, are left behind to raise the young generation (the grandchildren). Older women are particularly vulnerable as they face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination based on ageism, sexism, disability and the rural/urban divide.

The Recommendation contributes to a growing trend towards strengthening of the protection of the rights of older persons including provisions in the Africa Charter and the Maputo Protocol. The PAP welcomes the adoption of Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights relating to the Rights of Older Persons, which is a legally binding instrument that standardises and protects the rights of older persons.

The PAP is concerned about the status of the Protocol which is yet to come into force as no Member State has yet to ratify. The PAP urges all African states to ratify the Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons. It also encourages states to support the work of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in particular, its Working Group on the Rights of Older Persons and People with Disabilities.

The PAP also recommends the adoption of a gender perspective in policy and planning processes at all levels. It further recommends that AU Member States ensure the prevention, punishment and eradication of all forms of violence against older persons including harmful cultural practices in both the public and private spheres. 

The PAP further encourages states to adopt universal social pension schemes that benefit retirees and older persons who did not have the opportunity to contribute to formal social security schemes. States are also urged to ensure universal health coverage including access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. Ensuring the wellbeing of older persons also means addressing the challenges they face in contributing to and being party of society. In recognising the rights of older persons to participate in public life, the PAP recommends that States facilitate the training and education programmes, including information, communications and technology skills, particularly for older persons living in rural areas. States must also work to promote intergenerational support and engagement between older persons and young people.

The PAP also acknowledges the critical role of the media, civil society organisations and academic institutions in raising awareness to change negative attitudes and promote positive images of older persons.

The Centre for Human Rights welcomes the PAP’s Recommendation and joins the call for Member States of the AU to ratify the Protocol on the Rights of Older Person. We learnt that Lesotho is in the process of depositing its instrument of ratification of the Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons. We urge the South African government to join its neighbour committing to protecting the rights of older persons through ratification of the Protocol.

The PAP is an organ of the African Union (AU), which was established to ensure that Africa takes full ownership and participation in the development and sustainable transformation of the continent. PAP has 255 members representing 55 AU members (five members per Member State).  It sits in Midrand, South Africa and meets at least twice a year in ordinary session and can issue resolutions and recommendations as it just did in the recently concluded session.

The Centre for Human Rights, through its Women’s Rights Unit, is running a year-long #AgeWithRights campaign focusing on the need for enhanced protection of the rights of older persons.

Visit the campaign website: www.chr.up.ac.za/AgeWithRights

For further information, please contact:
Patience Mungwari Mpani
Programme Manager, Women’s Rights Unit
Centre for Human Rights
Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria
Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 4525
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.chr.up.ac.za

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