LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--HelpAge International, the only global organization with a singular focus on providing assistance to and advocating for disadvantaged older people, has been selected to receive the 2012 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize of $1.5 million. The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation presents the annual award, the world’s largest humanitarian prize, to an organization that is doing extraordinary work to alleviate human suffering. The foundation announced HelpAge today on International Women’s Day to acknowledge the invisible role of older women who provide for families, communities and food production across the developing world.
“By 2015, nearly 900 million people will be older than age 60, close to three times the population of the United States. Nearly 190 million live in poverty with more than 100 million living on less than $1 a day,” said Steven M. Hilton, CEO and president of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. “As the world prepares for this monumental aging trend, HelpAge shows us that it is important to recognize and support older people so they can continue to be contributing and productive members of society.”
Richard Blewitt, CEO of HelpAge International, said, “Receiving the Hilton Prize is a great honor. It is especially meaningful to draw the world’s attention to the historic transformation being caused by global aging and the plight of millions of older people who face overwhelming financial, social and health hurdles every day. HelpAge believes the whole world benefits when we tap the substantial wisdom and talents of older people and enable them to lead dignified, active, healthy and secure lives.”
Women make up the majority of older people around the world—nearly two thirds of those over age 80. Many older women in developing countries are the main economic providers for families and also are sole caregivers of AIDS-orphaned grandchildren. In Kenya alone, there are 1.1 million children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
“Older women are responsible for much of the farming and food production in developing countries, a critical function as food insecurity grows,” notes Catherine A. Bertini, Hilton Prize juror, Syracuse University professor, and former United Nations World Food Program executive director.
HelpAge International believes engaging older people themselves in efforts to claim their rights to health care, social services and economic and physical security is the way toward lasting change. It has shown that older people are their own best advocates through changes made by its grassroots organizations.
HelpAge was formed in 1983 by organizations in Canada, Colombia, Kenya, India and the United Kingdom with similar missions. Today it encompasses 94 HelpAge Affiliates in 70 countries and more than 3,000 independent partner groups and older people’s organizations. HelpAge has trained 25,000 professionals and 16,000 community members—including older people themselves—to provide health care, legal advice and financial support for older people.
Viewed as the world’s leading authority on global aging, HelpAge is actively engaging with the United Nations, European Union, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, bilateral donor governments, the World Economic Forum and other influential organizations to ensure there is a strong understanding of the critical need to support the human rights of older people.
The Hilton Prize receives more than 200 nominations from throughout the world each year, and a prestigious, independent international jury makes the final selection.
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