The Ministry of Human Rights in collaboration with the British Council and HelpAge International launched a unique and comprehensive report on the status of aged persons in Pakistan on Tuesday. The report, Moving from the Margins: Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Older Person in Pakistan has been commissioned by the British Council and authored by Professor Asghar Zaidi, Senior Fellow at the University of Oxford and Professor of Social Gerontology at Seoul National University in Korea. The report delves deep into the current state of human rights of the elderly people in Pakistan. It discusses the possible drivers that affect the subgroups of Pakistani elderly, the policies and programmes that Pakistan needs to consider and interventions required.
This is the first study on the state of older women and men in Pakistan using a human rights lens.
Key policy recommendations for the protection of rights of older persons included in the study highlight the need to Improving access to economic opportunities, facilitating access to health, expanding and simplifying pension provisions and establishing leadership for ageing.
With 12.5 million older men and women, Pakistan is one of the 15 countries in the world with an old person population of over ten million, projected to rise to 44 million by 2050. There is an urgent need in Pakistan for socio-economic policies, legislations and programs that safeguard the rights of older people in Pakistan.
Secretary, Ministry of Human Rights, Rabiya Javeri Agha, addressed the launch and noted “While Pakistan’s culture and religion gives deference to the elderly; changing demographics, industrialisation, rising inflation, urban-rural migration, are seeing a shift to more independent ways of living, shrinking family structures and a slow deterioration of inter-generational ties and thus the treatment of elderly” She was pleased to announce that this will be remedied at the earliest. “We have already drafted a bill at Federal level which is currently under review and will be introducing it very soon. This research and its findings have been truly valuable and will continue to be so when designing policies and programme initiatives at both the federal and provincial level.”
Speaking on the occasion, Rosemary Hilhorst Country Director British Council stated, “We need to create an age friendly environment and we need to address this issue by working together in order to improve access to economic opportunities for all, regardless of age.”
Andrew Zerzen Lead Partner and Director Education, British Council said “the youth of today will be a part of the older persons population and we need to act now to protect their rights”.
Subsequent to the launch, a round-table of key stakeholders met to discuss policy options in light of the report.