International Day of Older Persons

Older women and men discussed the opportunities the Decentralization Reform brings during the public debates held in Cantemir

Date: Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Older people MLD
On the occasion of International Day of Older Persons, more than 25 representatives of civil society organizations working with older people and community groups of older people from Cantemir, Balti, Leova, Cimislia, Hincesti, Comrat, Basarabeasca, Cahul, and Edinet, representatives of central and local government, civil society and international organizations participated at the national public debates on the situation of older women and men in the context of decentralization reform launched in Moldova. The event took place in Cantemir town, and was organized by the State Chancellery of the Republic of Moldova, with the support of the Joint Integrated Local Development Programme implemented with assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the financial support of the Government of Sweden.

Moldova is ageing rapidly and is ranked 14 in the world according to the degree of aging, and with such pace by 2050 every third person in the country will be 60 and older. Officially, people aged over 60 in Moldova represent over 14% of the total population. In Moldova almost every second person above 60 is living in poverty. The older population is growing and requires more attention from the central government. The average pension in Moldova in 2011 was around 900 lei ($70), and the minimum pension was 641 lei ($50), while the minimum subsistence level was 1503 lei ($120), that is pensions represent 58%, and 41% accordingly, of the minimum subsistence level. Women typically live longer, have lower pensions than men. Older women make an enormous contribution to their families and communities. Despite this, they are disproportionately discriminated against, marginalized and excluded because of the combined impact of age and gender-based discrimination
and other factors, such as ethnic origin and poverty. Single elderly women are more vulnerable
than single elderly men, since they own less property, receive smaller pensions.

Public debate focused on discussion of the needs and problems faced by the older women and men in Moldova and the opportunities to address them as a part of the decentralization reform. Thus, accessibility and quality of health care, social protection services, additional community services (social canteens, day care centers for the older, community centers, interests clubs), the need to develop geriatric services, socialization, inclusion and participation in public life and community development, participation in decision making were discussed.

Discussions between representatives of ministries and organizations working with older people have confirmed the need of decentralized, closer to the older persons, improved and upgraded health care and social services. Ms. Sofia Ursul, Community Mobilizer and leader of an organization working with older people in Cantemir town said “In our town the older persons lack oculist doctor and have to travel to Chisinau. Problems are typical for the old age and it is difficult for older people to travel, to queue up at the door of the doctor and in addition, to bear transportation costs”.

Mr. Ivan Curici, the deputy mayor of Cantemir town, pointed out that a major problem was the lack of local funds and flexibility of financial management to effectively address and solve the older persons’ problems. As result of decentralization, the municipalities will have greater freedom in the management of financial resources, which will enable them to better address the problems of the older persons. This idea was supported by Mr. Adrian Ionescu, Chief Technical Advisor of JILDP “Financial limitations are now the core issues in the decentralization process in Moldova, and by 2014 changes are expected in the administration of the local budgets. The public debates are effective not only to identify problems of the older women and men relevant for decentralization reform but also because they provided ways to solve them.”

The good practices of involving older people in decision making, creation and development of peer support groups of older women and men, and strengthening of the mechanisms to support community-level medical care service delivery for older people were shared during the debate. Also the new concept of civic participation of older people – the Older Citizens Monitoring, which promotes older people’s participation and input to national policies and programs so that they fully benefit from them – was presented as well. The community mobilization for empowerment of older women and men is based on the basic human rights principles and contributes to increased civic participation, accountability and transparency of local authorities, ensuring equality between older women and men etc.

Ms. Maria Sofronovici from Satul Nou village, Cimislia district, social worker in the village and volunteer for organization “Pro-democratie”, shared her experience of work with older people’s reintegration into society, protection of older persons’ rights, primary health care to the elderly, and the impact of migration on families with grandparents and grandchildren. “During the projects’ implementation I have learned more about the rights of and benefits for the older persons; how to monitor their health, for example how to measure blood pressure or blood sugar. Thus, after learning that older people are entitled to free treatments in sanatorium every three years, the district authorities were surprised to see that Satul Nou came with most requests for treatments at the sanatorium.”

Participants in public debates appreciated the opportunity to discuss issues of older people in Moldova and how they can be integrated into social and public life and ways for effective addressing their needs through decentralization reform. Similarly, decentralization will offer more autonomy and flexibility to local authorities in addressing problems of older women and men as they know better the local realities. It is important to engage in advocacy for active aging and promotion of a positive image of older women and men.

The Joint Integrated Local Development Programme (JILDP) is implemented by the Government of the Republic of Moldova, with the assistance of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), with the financial support of the Government of Sweden. JILDP assists Moldova in the process of decentralization and strengthening of local autonomy using an approach based on human rights and gender equality.