On the 28th of November, the Centre for Human Rights in Collaboration with Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Pro Bono and Human Rights Practice hosted the ‘Pride and Plight’ exhibition in Sandton, Pretoria. The exhibition brought together key partners, government representatives, and human rights advocates and showcased incredible art works by Helena Hugo, Cindy Awuor, Paulina Mazlbuko, Kenneth Nkozl, Charles Nkosl, Andrew Tshabangu, Dominic Tshabangu, Lisa Nettleton and our very own Advocacy Coordinator, Adebayo Okeowo and University of Pretoria’s Curator, Daniel Mosako.
This breathtaking exhibition sought to draw attention to the critical challenges faced by older women whilst also celebrating their resilience and amazing contributions to the society. In the words of Jacquie Cassette, the Practice head, ‘the exhibition seeks to reconceive the way the society views, interacts with and appreciates, older women in the family, work place and broader community by shedding light on their struggles (“their plights”) as well as their strength, beauty and dignity (“their prides”). The exhibition was part of the Centre’s 2018 yearlong #AgeWithRights Campaign to draw attention to the issues faced by older women and to advocate for the adoption of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa (Older Person’s Protocol).
Eersterust Welfare Organisation for the Aged (EWOFA) was chosen as the recipient of a percentage of the exhibition’s proceeds. EWOFA is an old age home in Pretoria that not only provides residence for older persons in the community but allows them to live out the remainder of their lives with dignity, as active citizens who do not merely exist but who play a meaningful role in the home and in their community. Sandra Struwig, EWOFA’s administrator and a speaker at the exhibition gave a vivid account of the challenges faced by older person’s in the community including abandonment and abuse and spoke to the role that each stakeholder must play in ensuring that the rights of older persons are better protected.
Dr. Nkatha Murungi of the Centre put the exhibition in context, making reference to the world’s rapidly ageing population and the neglect of older persons as a global phenomenon. She also shed light on the disproportionate socio-economic burden that older women bear and their increased vulnerability to many human rights violations. She introduced participants to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa (Older Person’s Protocol) and urged them to advocate for its ratification in order to ensure that the rights of older women are not neglected in law, policies and interventions.
The Honourable Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng graced the exhibition and took the pulse at the exhibition to another level by reiterating the irreplaceable value that older persons bring to the society and mourning the loss of such pillars of wisdom by a society that fails to recognise their contributions and continues to neglect them. He went further to personalise his experience noting how his grandparents instilled in him, core values of integrity and accountability from an early age and how those became unforgettable life lessons for him. The Chief Justice ended his speech with a charge to everyone present, to stand against the normalisation of the abuse of older women and to continue to advocate for the rights and good treatment of older persons.
To this end, the Centre for Human Rights encourages each and every person to become an avid advocate for the rights of older persons, especially older women and to encourage the South African government to take the ground breaking step of ratifying the Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons.
Person’s interested in purchasing the artwork can view the catalogue below, and contact the Advocacy Coordinator, Adebayo Okeowo- firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the #AgeWithRights campaign visit www.chr.up.ac.za/AgeWithRights.