In an effort to put a halt to the rampant abuse of older persons, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has embarked on a process of enacting a new Older Persons Act.
According to the Minister of State for Gender and Culture Affairs, Hon. Mutuuzo Peace Regis, the Bill whose sole aim is to enhance the protection and realization of older persons’ rights, has already had its Principles passed by Cabinet.
“A draft Bill has now been developed for consideration by Cabinet. As a Ministry, we are going to expedite this process to ensure that the Bill is passed into law to protect Older Persons from abuse.” Mutuuzo said, adding that there would be punitive penalties for perpetuators of the vices.
She was speaking at the commemoration of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day that was held at Mukono District headquarters on Saturday, June 15, 2019.
The Day was sanctioned by the United Nations to specifically reflect on the challenges that older persons persistently face especially in realization of their rights.
The Minister noted that while older persons are pivotal in resolving conflicts, inculcating discipline among the young and custodians of our rich traditions and as grandparents, they are often abused in various forms.
“Many Older Persons are suffering neglect and isolation as they have no caregivers while others have lost their property including land to unscrupulous people. This should stop. Older persons need our care and protection,” Mutuuzo said.
The Day was marked under the theme: “‘Older Persons’ Economic Empowerment: A Prerequisite to Autonomy and Independence.”
The theme sought to emphasize the need to economically empower older persons to enable them lead independent lives.
The Minister revealed that research findings from the Situation of Older persons in Uganda conducted by the Ministry in 2018 showed that Older Persons remain active beyond the retirement age and are engaged in economic activities because many of them are household heads.
“Therefore, their engagement in income generating activities reduces their dependence on relatives and creates autonomy among older persons since they are in position to make choices about their wellbeing.” Mutuuzo said.
She noted that the Government has put in place the necessary legal and policy frameworks to promote the rights of the older persons although challenges remain in implementation and realization of their purpose.
She cited the monthly cash transfers that Government extends to older persons through the Expanding Social Protection Programme as one of the avenues intended to uphold rights of older persons.
She revealed that the programme, currently in 55 districts, will be rolling out to cover the entire country at the beginning of next Financial Year, reaching all persons above 80 years.
“These transfers have helped older persons to cope with adverse effects of financial shocks, and provide a secure platform upon which beneficiaries can build productive and sustainable livelihoods.” She added.
The chairperson National Council for Older Persons, Canon Joram Tubasimwa, noted that many times the abuses that older persons face don’t stop at taking or destroying their property but includes sexual, physical and psychological depravities.
He appealed to government to initiate livelihood programmes for older persons as it has for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities (PWDs).
Special recognition was made of organisations that contributed to the success of the day, including; Reach One Touch One Ministries (ROTOM), Grandmothers Consortium, Uganda Reach the Aged Association, HelpAge International, Women Initiative Network, Jehovah Alive for Old Age and Mukono District Local Government.