Cabinet sitting on Monday has passed a resolution to have five MPs represent the elderly persons in Parliament.
According to ICT Minister Judith Nabakooba, the five parliamentary representatives will effectively represent the views of the elderly persons across the country, adding that this effort is aimed at strengthening inclusive representation of all special interest groups in parliament.
Currently, the 10th Parliament comprises of 459 MPS; with 296 constituency representatives, 122 district women representatives, 10 UPDF representatives, 5 Workers representatives, 5 representatives of PWDs and 16 Ex-officio Members.
According to a 2014 National Housing and Population report, the population of older persons increased to 1,430,000 from 1,101,103 in 2002. The Uganda Bureau of statistics further projects number of older persons in 2020 at 1.6 million.
Minister Nabakooba says that this population increase has far reaching implications on the demand and access to specialized social economic services for older persons. She admit that in spite of government’s commitment to addressing the needs and concerns of older persons, there is still need to have a streamlined structure from village to parliament to enhance participation of older persons in decision making.
“It is therefore important to note, that older persons in Uganda contribute immensely to the creation of wealth, support and care of families, creation of social cohesion and conflict resolution in their communities,” she said.
Government adopted the National policy for older persons in 2009 to provide a framework to guide policy and programming of interventions to improve the quality of life of older persons. The policy was formulated within the framework of old age specific international instruments for promotion of human rights.
Article 32 of the constitution provides that the state will take affirmative action in favour of groups marginalized on the basis of gender, age, disability or any other reason created by history tradition or custom for the purpose of redressing imbalances which exist against them.
“It would therefore be proper to have the elderly who in this bracket are 60 years of age and above have representation to provide a leveled platform for discussion of needs and concerns of older persons. And also enhance good governance through inclusive representation of all special interest groups,” she added.
In March 2020, elderly persons petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, seeking representation in Parliament.
In their petition by the National Council for Older Persons and the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), the senior citizens said that they have been marginalised for long. The Chairperson of the EOC, Sylvia Muwebwa said that older persons deserve space to enable them contribute to the decision making processes, given their knowledge and experience.