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October 17, 2015

Social protection holds promise of dignified life at later age


October 17, 2015

Older people live precarious and vulnerable lives due to weak livelihood strategies, and exclusion from existing provisions and entitlements from government institutions. It is, therefore, about time the government took concrete measures such as introduction of social protection programmes for older people and persons with disabilities so that they too can enjoy a certain level of income security at later age, and lead a relatively independent life.
A recommendation to this effect was made at a one-day sensitisation workshop on ‘Inclusion of older people and persons with disabilities in existing social protection programmes,’ here on Thursday. The session, which was jointly organized by HelpAge International and Pakistan National Centre on Ageing, was attended by government department officials, media, academia and civil society.
Older people are generally very unhappy with social protection provisions, and exclusionary and discriminatory policies. Even though they have contributed to the society throughout their lives, they do not have any income security or social protection at later age.
Welcoming the participants, senior programme manager at HelpAge International Syed Moeez-ud-din, and Ch. Abdul Ghafoor from Pakistan National Centre on Ageing highlighted the importance of social protection for older people and persons with disabilities.
Communications and advocacy coordinator Waqas Qureshi, maintained that both ‘age’ and ‘disability’ have clearly been recognized while formulating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which means that international development cannot achieve its desired objectives until it addresses the inequalities associated with age and disability. “Population ageing is a global phenomenon and the world including Pakistan is experiencing a rapid demographic transition. Two people celebrate their 60th birthday every second around the globe. 1 in every 9 persons in the world is over the age of 60

years, and this will increase to 1 in every 5 persons by 2050. There are more people over the age of 60 years than children under the age of 5 years, and by 2050, people aged over 60 will outnumber children under 15 years of age,” he stated.
While increasing longevity is one of humanity’s greatest achievements, it also presents social, economic and cultural challenges to individuals, families, societies and the global community. There are more than 1 billion people around the world living with some form of disability, which makes around 15-20% of the world’s total population. 80% of persons with disabilities live in developing countries and face a greater risk of living in poverty.
Globally, more than 46% people aged 60 years and over live with disabilities, and in some low-income countries, 43% people aged 60 or above live with a disability. Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world; it is amongst those 15 countries where population of people over the age of 60 is more than 10 million. It is estimated that 7% of the total population of Pakistan is over 60, with a figure of 11.6 million, which will rise to 43.3 million by 2050. Population ageing is happening faster in Asia and especially in South Asia. Different countries around the world are developing new legislations and modifying existing ones for protection of rights of older people.
Dr. Haider Zaman, president of the National Centre on Ageing, highlighted the findings of survey studies, which revealed that older men and women are facing a number of accessibility issues, health issues and income security.
Muzaffar Mahmood Qureshi, former federal secretary, said, a large proportion of the elderly are dependent on their families. “There are no government schemes for older people. The state must implement the Law on Protection of Rights and Interests of the Older People,” he added.
Two key panel discussions were an important part of the workshop. The first one was on ‘Social Protection Issues and Older People and Persons with Disabilities’ while the second was on ‘How Older People and Persons with Disabilities can be included in Social Protection Programmes.’

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