Vera Geykina, Kyrgyzstan

Vera is an advocate for older people's rights and participation in society.


How did you get involved in campaigning for older people’s rights?

I'm retired now, but before that I worked in a factory for 50 years. I had been doing metallurgy and metal-working my whole life. There are few women in this profession, but it never stopped me. I live alone now, and I do feel lonely at times, but I started participating in an older person’s group and it helps a lot. I've always been active in public life, and I do not want to stop being involved just because I’m older.


What do you do to advocate for older people’s right?


I have been participating in the older people’s self-help group since 2003. Older people in the group support each other to find their place in life, which is especially important for those who are retired.
Last year on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, I acted in a “forum theatre” performance. This concept is very new and interesting for Kyrgyzstan. The topic was "Violence against older people." I also participated in the delegation of older people to the Ministry of Social Development to promote the UN Convention on the rights of older people.


Side note: Forum theatre is a style of performance that begins with demonstrations of social problems. The actors then re-enact the scenarios and give the audience a chance to interject with alternate ways for characters to react to the problems.


What are the challenges older people face in your country?

My retirement experienced showed my why the situation for older people needs to change. There are no organizations in the country that help veterans of labor who have worked in the industry for 50 years.
Most older people do not have enough of a pension to live a decent life. And when people approach the pension-eligible age, it becomes very difficult for them to find a job. Employers simply won’t hire an older person.
If an older person lives with other family members, there are cases where he or she is subjected to emotional, financial and even physical abuse. My participation in the ADA campaign is aimed at raising awareness about these cases and combating them.


What effect has campaigning had on you as an older person?

Participation in ADA campaigns has given me a sense of confidence. I feel like I know my rights—that I can talk about human rights and educate other people about it.



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