Senior citizens bill to protect elderly people’s rights, says minister

Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari on 30th September 2020 said her ministry had drafted the Islamabad Capital Territory Senior Citizens Bill 2020, which was currently with the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights, focusing on ensuring adequate living standards and social protections for the elderly.

In her statement on the International Day of Older Persons, she said the law would institute essential protections to ensure that the elderly live a meaningful life, and to limit barriers that prevent their full participation in society. “The law also proposes the establishment of a senior citizen’s council, which will work towards ensuring that senior citizens are given priority in hospitals and medical facilities,” she said.

A senior citizen’s fund for the protection of the rights of senior citizens will also be established under this law.

Three provincial governments including Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have already enacted legislations for the senior citizens.

She said: “It is essential that the elderly are treated with respect and dignity.”

Moreover, Federal Secretary for Human Rights, Rabiya Javeri Agha said: “Rather than being perceived and treated as a burden to society, it is important to create an enabling environment for senior citizens to age with grace, dignity and opportunities to live a meaningful life.”

The Ministry of Human Rights recognises the importance of raising awareness of the special needs of older persons, as well as their contribution to the functioning of the societies in which they live. Legislative, policy and awareness interventions have the power to impact societal behaviour and attitudes, which can ensure that the elderly are able to fulfil their potential in dignity and equality, she said.

The minister said the day creates an opportunity to recognise the contributions of elderly citizens, who are often excluded or marginalized from participation in society as well as mainstream discourse.

She said populations around the world are ageing at an exponential pace.

“It has been projected that the number of older persons worldwide will more than double in the next few decades. Senior people will exceed 1.5 billion in 2050. It is thus critical to create an enabling and healthy environment to ensure that every human being, irrespective of age, was able to fulfill their potential with dignity and equality.

The year 2020 marked the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons as well as the initiation of the Decade of Healthy Ageing (2020-2030).

This year has also seen the outbreak of the Covid-19 that has caused widespread social, political and economic upheaval across the world. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the ministry placed emphasis on policy and programmatic interventions targeted towards raising awareness of the special needs and specific vulnerabilities of the elderly, with advice and guidelines for ensuring their protection, safety, comfort, and well-being.

Dated: 01.10.2020