Coalition Member Spotlight: HelpAge

For Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, the Hilton Prize Coalition shines a spotlight on Laureate member HelpAge. HelpAge USA is the U.S. affiliate of HelpAge International, a global non-profit dedicated to advancing the wellbeing and inclusion of older people. Through a global network of over 120 partners and affiliates in over 70 countries, HelpAge implements programs and policies that improve the health and livelihoods of older people in poor communities. From getting the rights of older people recognized in global, multilateral agreements to improving healthcare access in small villages, HelpAge works at all levels to ensure everyone who reaches old age can live a healthy, safe, and secure life. HelpAge is the 2012 recipient of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize .

As life expectancy continues to increase in both developed and developing regions, there is a greater need for societies to address elder abuse and neglect. But despite the growing population of older people, awareness of elder abuse remains low. Cultural conceptions of violence and abuse tend to portray victims as young or middle-aged even though 20% of the world’s population is expected to be over the age of 60 by 2050. Older people may not report abuse because of the social stigma attached to it, a stigma that HelpAge works to alleviate as it fights elder discrimination.

Vietnam self help club in Nghe An Province

A HelpAge study on older adults in protracted humanitarian crises found that 1 in 5 had experienced some form of violence. A study in five EU countries found that 28% of women 60 years of age and older reported experiencing some form of abuse in the previous year. This statistic included sexual and physical violence as well as other forms of abuse. The most common perpetrator of this violence is a spouse or intimate partner.

More can be done by governments and multilateral organizations to include older people in human rights protections. Of the 133 countries surveyed in the World Health Organization’s 2014 Violence Prevention survey, only 59% said they have laws to prevent elder abuse, and only 30% said that these were fully enforced.  Existing international human rights laws do not explicitly articulate protecting older women from violence.

To combat age discrimination at the grassroots level, HelpAge developed a campaign called Age Demands Action (ADA). ADA mobilizes local communities to advocate for the rights of older people. The 9th United Nations Open-Ended Working Group on Aging will take place in July at the UN headquarters in New York. HelpAge’s ADA campaigners will advocate for four key areas of rights. These are the rights to autonomy and independence; long-term care and palliative care; equality and non-discrimination; and freedom from violence, abuse, and neglect.

For more information on how HelpAge supports World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and advocates for a UN convention, read this article. To learn more about HelpAge’s health and humanitarian programs, visit their website at www.helpageusa.org

(Photos courtesy of HelpAge USA)

About The Hilton Prize Coalition
The Hilton Prize Coalition is an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the Fellows Program, the Collaborative Models Program and the Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat, Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow the Hilton Prize Coalition on Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

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