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HON. NANA OYE LITHUR
MINISTER FOR GENDER, CHILDREN AND SOCIAL
SIXTH WORKING SESSION OF THE
OPEN-ENDED WORKING GROUP ON AGEING
AGENDA ITEM 4: EXISTING INTERNATIONAL
FRAMEWORKONTHE HUMAN RIGHTS OF OLDER
PERSONS AND IDENTIFICATION OF EXISTING
GAPS AT THE INTERNATIONAL LEVEL
NEW YORK, 14-16 JULY, 2015
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished delegates
On behalf of my delegation, I take this opportunity to congratulate you and the other
members of the Bureau on your election. My delegation is confident that your leadership and
rich experience will ensure a fruitful and successful outcome of this session. We assure you
of our full support and cooperation.
As all present are aware, statistics on the trend of global population of older persons is on the
increase. This trend has been attributed to the positive revolution in longevity resulting in an
increase in global life expectancy. About 20 per cent of the world’s population is projected to
be 60 years and above by year 2050, Ghana currently has 6.7 per cent of its population made
up of older persons above 60 years and this will continue to increase. This is indeed a global
achievement as the trend is not only limited to developed countries but developing countries
including my country Ghana. This collective global achievement calls for a global approach
at addressing the challenges that comes with it.
As global as the achievement of global positive longevity is the challenges that older persons
are confronted with. The challenges older persons in developed countries face such as
discrimination, income insecurity, access to health care, unemployment, abuse, access to
proper transport systems etc. are no different from those of developing countries but the
absence of proper infrastructure and adequate financing for social safety nets for older
persons make the situation worse for developing countries. Notwithstanding these challenges,
the contributions of older persons in society are invaluable. In Africa, although older persons
engage in economic activities such as farming and petty trading most of their contributions
cannot be measured in economic terms; often playing role in conflict resolution, caregiving,
passing on morals and cultural values to the young population.
Although currently there is no specific international human right framework for the right of
older persons to serve as a guideline for other countries, progress has been made by
individual countries to promote and protect the right of older persons. The constitution of
Ghana is not silent on the human rights of older persons. It fully guarantee’s the promotion of
human rights and freedom of older persons. We agree that discussion of old-age issues from a
human rights perspective helps to assess situations and policy responses using a consistent set
of values and principles.
Taking into consideration specific local needs and drawing from international policy
documents such as the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging and the African Union
Policy Framework Ghana in July 2010 launched its national ageing policy. The month of July
again marks a very important day for older persons in Ghana as the annual senior citizens day
is celebrated on 1st July.
We in Ghana for the past two years made modest progress at promoting the welfare of older
persons in Ghana. Under the Social Protection Directorate at Ministry of Gender, Children
and Social Protection, a focal desk on elderly persons has been created to coordinate
activities on elderly persons and to ensure the full implementation of the national ageing
policy, over 5,000 elderly persons have freely been registered onto the National Insurance
Scheme, the drafting instructions has been sent to the Attorney General’s Office to initiate the
drafting of an Aged Bill which will eventually become an Act giving legal backing for the
implementation of pro-elderly interventions.
The Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Cash Transfer Programme which started in
2008 is aimed at lessening the plight of Orphans, persons with extremely poor households,
and the aged. It has helped more than 70,000 households by 2013 since its inception. Ghana
early this year launched a programme called the ‘Eban’ Elderly Welfare Card Programme;
the programme seeks to use social safety net to ensure the elderly live in dignity. Under the
programme older person receive 50 per cent discount on public transport fare to any
destination in Ghana, they also receive priority access to services at the hospitals, banks,
transport terminal and other social services that older persons might require, 25,000 elderly
persons are expected to be enrolled on the program nationwide. A Memorandum of
Understanding has been signed between Ghana and the Aahus Social Health Care Collage of
Denmark to support the introduction and mainstreaming of geriatrics at the various
health training schools in Ghana.
A witch camp which had 70 per cent of its inmate being older women 70 years and above
was recently closed down and the inmate reintegrated into society, this is one of our effort
dealing with abuse and discrimination against older person and older women in particular.
Despite these modest achievements, older persons in Ghana continue to face some form of
discrimination and abuse. Going forward, we propose that specific international standards on
older persons’ rights will ensure the following:
i) Prohibition of all forms of discrimination against older persons on the basis of old age
alone or in combination with other factors;
ii) Elimination of all barriers that prevent older persons from enjoying their rights on an equal
basis with others;
iii) Enhancing the legal capacity of older persons, including the provision of legal support to
enable them exercise their rights on an equal basis with others;
iv ) Elimination of all barriers to the right of personal mobility of older persons, including full
access to affordable and safe transport on an equal basis with others, and mobility aids and
v) Protection from all forms of violence and abuse, especially for older women, including
from harmful traditional practices, torture in any form, expulsion from the home and any
inhuman and degrading treatment;
vi) Provision for the right to social security and social protection.
In conclusion Mr Chairman, Ghana fully endorse the comprehensive approach and the
leading role of the United Nations and support the continuous effort by the international
community to develop the appropriate legal framework and tools to effectively address gaps
and challenges faced by older persons.