By David Njagi
African grannies are counting on the ongoing African Union (AU) summit to have their demands met through a new human rights protocol.
The Heads of States meeting that takes place until January 31st in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is expected to consider the adoption of a new human rights protocol on the rights of older people in Africa.
What makes this protocol important is that it contains a specific article guaranteeing older women rights to freedom from violence, as well as rights to land, property and inheritance, according to HelpAge International.
“Progress on gender equality in Africa can only be made if human rights are protected at every stage of every woman’s life,” argues Dr. Prafula Mishra, Regional Director at HelpAge International. “The discrimination that older women are subjected to, based on their older age and their gender, must be recognized and addressed.”
Older women continue to be discriminated against, subjected to different types of violence and abuse, denied access to health care and an adequate standard of living, and treated with disrespect.
“At times I feel affected and lonely, especially when I am told that what is being done and discussed is not for me as I am old,” said an older woman from Uganda, while another added: “We feel isolated and alienated as if we are animals.”
The level of violence and abuse remains hidden. Data on violence against women is rarely available beyond the age of 49, while older women are reluctant to talk about or report the violence they experience.
“The time has come to end this discrimination and denial of older women’s human rights,” said Jamillah Mwanjisi, regional head of policy and advocacy at HelpAge International.
According to UN data, there are currently 71 million women over the age of 50 across Africa. This is predicted to rise to 111 million by 2030.