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Older women in Kenya press for progress on violence, neglect on International Women's Day
The campaign for equality and the end to discrimination and violence against older women
They join thousands of activists from across the world who, as part of HelpAge International's Age Demands Action campaign, are raising their voices about how violence, abuse and neglect impacts older people.
According to Ms Roseline Kihumba, International & Regional Policies Coordinator, HelpAge International – Africa Regional Office, there is urgent need for the government to put in place the Social Assistance Act to ensure that the government stays committed to Universal pension decision. This Act, once approved is key to securing the lives of rural/urban poor older women who are majority poor and experience land, inheritance and property related issues.
Violence against older women is hidden, underestimated or ignored, dismissed as a private matter between relatives. It is no surprise, therefore, that it is widely underreported. It is accepted as the norm.
But violence and neglect against older women does not only happen behind closed doors. It can happen on public transport, in hospitals, and in shops and markets where older people are ignored, insulted and even attacked. For older women who have disabilities, widows or those who live alone, the risk of facing abuse like this is even greater.
"We spoke with 250 older women around the world about their experiences of violence, abuse and neglect. They told us they are discriminated against in many areas of their lives, and that many of them had experienced violence or knew someone who had. Yet their voices are often ignored," said Jemma Stovell, Campaigns Manager at HelpAge International.
"Older women remain invisible in data about violence against women, and are routinely excluded from policy and programmes to stop violence against women and girls. We must press for progress by making sure older women are not forgotten. "
Working towards a UN convention on ageing
HelpAge International is working with partners around the world to advocate foran international convention to secure older women's rights to equality and non-discrimination, and freedom from violence, abuse and neglect, inall settings.
The right to equality and non-discrimination and to freedom from violence, abuse and neglect will be discussed at this year's Open-ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) on 23-26 July. The OEWG has been set up to find ways to better protect older people's rights, including the possibility of an internationally-
"Older people's right to freedom from violence, abuse and neglect is not adequately protected in international human rights law, nor in the national legislation of many countries," says Bridget Sleap, Senior Rights Policy Adviser at HelpAge International.
"It is critical that older people are part of the discussion on how to change this and that governments consult them before the OEWG session in July."
HelpAge International, Henry Neondo