Thursday September 29, 2022

Age-friendly Pakistan: a dream of older women and men

By our correspondents
September 30, 2017

Islamabad: The human rights of older persons in Pakistan remain neglected. Initial findings of a national study show 20% of older persons in Pakistan struggle with their everyday basic needs of food and shelter. A greater disadvantage is observed for older women as 24% of them struggle in accessing the basic needs of food and shelter.

To better understand the challenges facing older people in Pakistan, a first-ever national level research study has been conducted by HelpAge International with the support of British Council. Titled ‘Moving from the Margins: Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Older People in Pakistan,’ the study 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 complete report will be launched later in this year.

According to the report, a higher proportion, about 25%, struggle with everyday basic needs for healthcare and medicine. Women do worse than men in this respect. Close to one-half believe that younger members of the family have a greater ability to pay for the costs of their health care.

One out of ten older persons believe that they have been looked down upon or treated in humiliating, shameful or degrading way because of their age. A similarly large proportion of Pakistani older persons believe that their family members make important decisions without their permission or consent.

Commenting ahead of the release of the report, Professor Zaidi said: “Pakistan urgently needs to develop clear and comprehensive institutional arrangements for the protection of human rights of older persons, including guaranteed minimum pensions for everyone and specialised and affordable geriatric health care provisions.”

As of today, only a limited number of policy instruments have been developed to address issues associated with the wellbeing of older persons. The government of Pakistan has also initiated the legislation process, and the Senior Citizens Act has been approved in the province of Sindh, KP and Balochistan. However, implementation of these acts is still a question mark.

The government of Punjab has also initiated the legislation process and a Senior Citizens Bill has been finalized by the government but it’s been pending for the approval for last two years. Unfortunately, no policy or law has been enacted at the federal level.

Ageing is under strong focus of international development now. It is clearly recognized in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These call for leaving no one behind and ensuring that development goals met for segments of society.