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Why pensioners have a good story about life

PRESIDENT Ali Mohamed Shein has promised to review the current universal pension for elder persons with a view to increasing it, properly doubling the monthly 20,000/= amount given to every citizen  who has attained the age of 70 or  even more.

Dr Shein made the exceptional announcement at a meeting with the elderly, to grace their meeting here, receiving big applaud from the enthusiastic older persons, sparking endless ecstasy among them after the president’s sentence “I have accepted your prayer to have the pension reformed.”

The Zanzibar Universal Pension Scheme (ZUPS) launched by the Government in April 2016, a non-contributory, universal scheme for all people aged 70 years and above is the first of its kind in East Africa region.

Amid the elders jubilation President said the universal pension fund would be backed by law already being discussed at respective decision making bodies in the government before it is presented in the House of Representative for approval.

“We will  continue to thank President Shein for his personal initiative to improve our lives The 20,000/= sounds small, but its big for many elders who cannot get even ten thousand shillings a month.

With proper planning, some have used the money to start a small business,” Mr Amour Ali Nassor, Secretary, JUWAWAZA (Jumuiya ya Wazee na Wastaafu Zanzibar) said.

The elderly and the association  of retired  workers (JUWAZA) organized the meeting officiated by the President whom Nassor described as having done a lot for all of them.

Ms Hadiya Suleiman from Dunga-bweni village, Unguja central district and Mzee Kassim Juma Vuai gave testimonies on how the 20,000/= has been benefiting them.

Both started small businesses and are now earning money by renting bicycles to tourists.

JUWAWAZA leaders led by its national chairperson Mzee Masurur Ferouz and Amour Nassor praised and commended Dr Shein for his on going efforts of providing them with better care including easy access to health services.

The Minister responsible for Elders Ms Maudline Castico reassured  them that government’s commitment care for all the elders will continue unabated, appealing to members of the public not to abandon “Our elders.”

She also joined with Dr Shein to urge younger generation to learn about the importance of respecting elders “We are committed to see that all elderly live happy life.

Any act of harassing, neglecting or abandoning them is violation of human rights.”

According to Shein, since 1964 revolution, first under  the late Karume, followed by his successors, has been doing a lot for the senior citizens, which include provision of housing for the homeless senior citizens and elderly in difficulties and health care.

Dr Shein said, “It is unfortunate that while the government is doing its best to care for the elderly, some young people in some families have no respect to them and older persons are abandoned without any assistance to support their living.”

To further show our love to our elder parents, let us also introduce weekly outing, mainly for leisure in tourists’ attraction sites, Dr Shein said.

The government has also increased retirement pension for all the elderly who were receiving between 5,000/- and 47,000/-.

Dr Shein said while his government struggles to ensure all the elderly live decent life in the islands by getting the basic requirements, he advised them not to remain idle, by engaging in physical/body exercise and health check regularly.

Older people have always played a significant role in society, as leaders, caretakers and custodians of tradition.

Yet they are also highly vulnerable, with many falling into poverty, becoming disabled or facing discrimination.

As health care improves, the population of older people is growing. Their needs are also growing, as are their contributions to the world.

UNFPA is supporting research into the phenomenon of global ageing and is promoting the adoption of policies that support older people and meet their needs.

The theme of the 2019 commemoration is “The Journey to Age Equality”.

On 14 December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly (by resolution 45/106) designated 1 October the International Day of Older Persons.

This was preceded by initiatives such as the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing – which was adopted by the 1982 World Assembly on Ageing – and endorsed later that year by the UN General Assembly.

In 1991, the General Assembly (by resolution 46/91) adopted the United Nations Principles for Older Persons.

In 2002, the Second World Assembly on Ageing adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, to respond to the opportunities and challenges of population ageing in the 21st century and to promote the development of a society for all ages.

The first of October, the International Day of Older Persons (IDOP), is a day to stand against ageism and to promote the development of a society that is hospitable to people of all ages.

The theme “The Journey to Age Equality,” is aligned with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), goal No.10.

SGD No.10 focuses on pathways of coping with existing and preventing future old age inequality and sets to reduce inequality within and among countries and aims to “ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcomes"…

According to the UNFPA this includes through measures to eliminate discrimination and to “empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.”

Often, disparities in old age reflect an accumulated disadvantage characterized by factors such as: location, gender, socio‚Äźeconomic status, health, income etc. Between 2015 and 2030, the number of people aged 60 and over is expected to increase from 901 million to 1.4 billion.

In this regard, trends of ageing and economic inequality interact across generations and rapid population ageing, demographic and societal or structural changes alone can exacerbate older age inequalities, thereby limiting economic growth and social cohesion.

The objectives of the 2019 IDOP are: To help draw attention to the existence of old age inequality and how this often results from accumulation of disadvantages throughout life -and highlight intergenerational risk of increased old age inequality; and to bring awareness to the urgency of coping with existing and preventing future old age inequality.

To explore societal and structural changes in view of life course policies: life-long learning, proactive and adaptive Labour policies, social protection and universal health coverage and to reflect on best practice, lessons and progress on the journey to ending older age inequality and changing negative narratives and stereotypes involving “older age”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says over 700 million people are now over the age of 60 and by 2050, the number is expected to be two billion people, over 20 per cent of the world’s population, will be 60 or older.

WHO says the increase in the number of older people will be the greatest and the most rapid in the developing world, with Asia as the region with the largest number of older persons and Africa facing the largest proportionate growth.

With this in mind, enhanced attention to the particular needs and challenges faced by many older people is clearly required.

Just as important, however, is the essential contribution the majority of older men and women can continue to make to the functioning of society if adequate guarantees are in place.

Living up to the Secretary-General’s guiding principle of “Leaving No-One Behind” necessitates the understanding that demography matters for sustainable development and that population dynamics will shape the key developmental challenges that the world in confronting in the 21st century.

The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize that development will only be achievable if it is inclusive of all ages.

Empowering older persons in all dimensions of development, including promoting their active participation in the social, economic and political lives is one way to ensure their inclusiveness and reduce inequalities.

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Author: STAFF REPORTER

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