Speakers stress protection of older people’s rights
* Call for income security of senior citizens through collective action plan
ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a seminar said that given the old age vulnerabilities, it is high time for the government to introduce national social protection floor that integrates income security needs of the older people.
They said this during a national seminar ‘Protection of Older People’, jointly organised by HelpAge International and Research Society of International Law (RSIL) on Tuesday.
Speaking on the occasion, HelpAge International Pakistan Programme Country Director Ajeeba K Aslam said that the objective of the seminar was to highlight the vulnerabilities and needs and rights of older people, especially those related to income security, mainstream through collective civil society action.
She said that many of the economies, smaller than Pakistan, like Nepal and Bangladesh, have introduced new enabling legislation as follow up of Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPPA-2002).
Ahmer Bilal Soofi, RSIL president, gave an overview of international and national legal policy frameworks related to the rights of older people and highlighted the gaps in national legal framework, that need to be addressed, for enabling policy formulation and dispensation. He was of the view that human rights framework provided a legitimate base for further developing national legal and policy frameworks in support of social protection of older people.
Saadur Rehman Khan and Nyma Khan, advocates from RSIL, gave a detailed presentation on legal framework and shared global examples of national-level legal instruments introduced by respective governments, in support of social protection of older people.
Dr Wajid Pirzada of HelpAge International spoke about unique and distinct vulnerabilities of older people and old age poverty that need to be addressed through informed policy formulation. In the context of demographic ageing, Dr Pirzada said that by 2050 the population of older people in Pakistan will reach around 17 percent, from its current level of seven percent, which will be equivalent to older people’s population at present in Europe. In this context, he added that then Pakistan would be facing similar, rather more daunting, challenges with respect to ageing which Europe faced today. He also highlighted the likely socio-economic transitions demographic ageing would bring about and advocated for enactment of Senior Citizens Rights Bill as enabling legal instrument, and introduction of social protection for an inclusive growth.
In a later session, Dr Pirzada further built on the argument of old age vulnerabilities, and tried to make a convincing case for Universal Old Age Pension and social pensions for older people in Pakistan under national social protection floor.
Dave Mather, regional representative of HelpAge international for South Asia, while concluding the day-long presentations appreciated the HelpAge Country Programme and RSIL for their timely initiative on social protection of older people, and highlighted the need for right-based social protection mainstreaming in South Asia in general and Pakistan in particular.