In Neum, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 10 and 11 April 2019, a conference was organised entitled “Action Against Ageism”. The conference was a part of the project implemented by Hilfswerk International in partnership with: Partnership for Health NGO, Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Association for Help and Development Hajde. The objectives of the project are to improve human rights of older people, improve and develop institutional capacity as well as to promote active participation of older people in the society.

Natasa Todorovic of the Red Cross of Serbia was invited as an expert to speak about discrimination and human rights of older persons. She emphasised that ageism is a widespread phenomenon across the world and that population ageing increases the risk of discrimination as well.

Older people face different treatment because of ignorance, prejudice, stereotypes about older people and ageing.

Some prejudiced opinions of older people:

  • They are a burden for the society, families, systems of healthcare and social welfare, for economy, that they are incompetent, incapable and useless, that they can not work efficiently, productively and make a profit, that they are politically conservative
  • They are insufficiently educated, uninteresting, they can not keep the pace with the modern times and contemporary technology, that they are spent and obsolete.

The level of consciousness in the society is insufficiently developed. Discrimination can be found in many areas of life and it increases the risk of abuse and affects mental and physical health of older people. We must fight discrimination through promoting positive image of ageing and older people as well as the contribution older people make to the society. Also important are public policies prohibiting age based discrimination in different areas. One should be aware that through this form of discrimination, we discriminate against our own future because “Older people’s rights today are your rights tomorrow”. The conference participants were very pleased with the presentation and had a lot of questions. Their conclusion is that the Red Cross of Serbia’s experience is very important for other organisations planning to develop right based approach in their work.