Value of Older Person’s work appreciated
Older Persons are regarded to be custodians of knowledge based on the time lived, work and vast experience in different aspects of life. Mrs Edith Mary Wakumire – a Female District Councilor, in Mbale District, stated,” Interacting with the people who have wide experiences in Older Person’s issues as a leader has given me the confidence to serve them with diligence and filled up the gap that had been created due to lack of a capacity building plan for the elected leaders.”
The National Council for Older Persons which was established in 2016 by an Act of the Parliament of Uganda, has a mandate of advocating, protecting, and promoting the issues and rights of older persons in Uganda. The Act put in place structures for the representation and participation of Older Persons in the Councils at the National and Local Government levels.
Mrs Philemon Washipukhu (District Councilor for Older Persons Mbale District) revealed that “the government of Uganda realized that older persons are important being a source of wisdom hence government creating leadership opportunities for effective representation and advocacy for rights..”
Mrs. Kashaija Joy Charity (woman councilor for Older Persons in Buikwe district) stated,” We could not interact well with other councilors because we had not been inducted on our duties but after the trainings by Uganda Reach the Aged Association (URAA), and Help Age International, we now understand our roles as councilors and serve older persons better and the lobbying has led to increased access to services for example older persons including persons with disabilities do not line up in health centres to receive treatment.”
Another aspect of consideration is that; after the elections, these leaders were so excited and celebrated for this elevation to being Older Persons Councillors. However little did they know that they were very few to influence and lobby to benefit their Constituents. Older Persons working with other leaders of SIGs have therefore played a big role in advocating for the rights of older persons and other SIGs in their respective communities hence an increasing need to empower and build capacity among the leaders.
With this creation of leadership opportunities, most Older Persons with leadership abilities and capacity got excited and expressed interest to take up leadership responsibilities and representation roles. There is more involvement of older person leaders by the government hence a lot of support in sensitization and the ideas are also taken note of including during the budgeting process. This has strengthened the participation and involvement of older persons in advocating and defending rights, advocating for more service, and better ways of service provision to SIGs as well as influencing policies that increase the interests of the government and various stakeholders in Uganda on the inclusion of older persons.
During the NED/URAA/ HelpAge SIGs capacity building project review one government official stated that “Ageing is an inevitable process, what is needed now is a bigger push by the older person’s leaders for the rights of an older person to be more recognized through training and awareness on the rights and programs put in place by the government to benefit the older persons, To this end, we are grateful for the capacity building support given provided by URAA and Help Age International which has enabled older person leaders to meet their obligations – Mr Masiga Samson; MGLSD January 2023.
The capacity building of older person’s leaders and other SIG leaders has increased the value of the SIG leaders for they are respected, recognized listened and attended to as being a united force. Similarly, the people they serve also appreciate their efforts for the services received. Thus, the value of the SIG representations is highly appreciated.
Compiled by Diana Akullo