Regional Forums are held for members of Municipal Councils for the Elderly to discuss and debate issues of aging and social assistance with civil society representatives, elected officials, and service providers. The Forums allow information and opinion sharing but little else.
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Problems and Purpose
At present, the aging theme has been gaining a growing space in the discussion of modern society. Brazil was, until then, considered a "young country", but this reality has been changing rapidly with the increase in life expectancy. The process of aging of the population demands a close look at the peculiarities of this populational segment by part of the public sector, the family and society, in the proposition of different strategies, actions and services that meet the needs of attention, protection and defense of the rights of the elderly population. One of the most relevant strategies of this process is the active participation of the elderly in the Regional Forums of the Elderly starts to leave the role of social invisibility to visibility and protagonism in the process of planning, elaboration, monitoring and public policies that work in the area of aging.
Background History and Context
The structuring of participatory democracy in Brazil was introduced with the formation of constituent assembly, which brought with it new participatory arrangements, the relevance of popular initiative and the participation of representatives of popular associations in the organization of the cities.
A participatory practice began, focused at the local level and on issues of urbanization and management of public services, restoring to citizenship and to democracy their most deep meaning. The ability of each one, connected to others, to regain control of the struggle for your needs.
The United Nations Organization held in Vienna in August 1982 the first The World Aging Assembly, which approved the International Plan of Action for the old age. 62 recommendations were established for actions in the areas of health, nutrition, protection of the elderly consumer, housing, education, family, social welfare, employment, environment. Brazil became a signatory of this plan, committing itself to implement public policies that sought to ensure the social rights of the elderly. From an intense mobilization of the elderly population, articles were inserted in the Constitution of 88 related to the elderly, ensuring the duty of family, society and the State to support the elderly, to gratuitousness of the urban collective transports over 65 years, the rights to the social security, social assistance and health. After 20 years from the first World Aging Assembly, the second one occurred in Madri, in 2002, organized by the UN. At this meeting, the implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was prioritized, as well as the need to include the elderly in the social, cultural, economic and political life of society. In 2004, Law No. 10,741 came into force, the Statute of the Elderly, consisting of 118 articles, intended to regulate the rights granted to persons over 60 years of age, such as right to health, life, education, housing, transportation, food, communital and family coexistence, culture, work, leisure, social security and social assistence, legal assistance, as well as specific protection measures for the elderly living in ILPI's (Institution of Long Stay).
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The regional forums for the elderly emerged after the promulgation of Law n. 7.230 / 99, which instituted the Municipal Policy of the Elderly in Belo Horizonte, and seven years after the law creating the Council Municipality of the Elderly of Belo Horizonte - CMI / BH.
The organization of the forums is responsibility of the managements of the regional social services and each forum has its own dynamics. The forums are held monthly in all the regional and all the coordinators of coexistence groups participate, participatory entities, such as the Pro-Elder Movement Movement, governmental organizations, such as the Coordination of the Rights to the Elderly Person and management of health posts and social assistance.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
In the forums, topics of interest to the elderly population and the thematic municipal pre-conferences of the elderly are discussed. From the forums, two directors are elected (holder and deputy) from the Municipal Council of the Elderly of Belo Horizonte and also the delegates of the Municipal Conferences of the Elderly.
In relation to the profile of these participants, a large part of the elderly have an active participation in different movements and, for the most part, are coordinators of groups of coexistence, with good articulation in the City Hall, through its councilors.
Methods and Tools Used
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Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction
A working proposal was prepared for the Regional Elderly, whose fundamental guideline is the strengthening of the participation and organization of the segment for the consolidation of their rights. In the case of the regional Northwest forum, the meetings take place monthly in the
Center of Reference for the Elderly Person's, with a participation of 20 to 40 persons: representatives of the Coexistence groups, the Pro-Elder Movement, ILPI's (Long-term Residency Institutions), representatives of various municipal government sectors.
Before each forum is held a pre-forum, where the forum guidelines are prepared by some elderly, representatives of social groups, the representative of the Coordination for the Rights of the Elderly Person and the Regional Social Services Manager responsible for organization of the forum.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The majority of the elderly who participate in the forum consider it very important, due to the access to information, participation and the possibility of talking about the problems of groups of coexistence.
In relation to the perception of feeling represented, most answered that yes, being a pertinent question, where the incoherence is observed, since the majority did not remember in whom voted, how could she feel well represented.
The fact is that counselors end up issuing their own opinion about determining topic, not exercising their role of representative, often sharing positions defended with more vehemence, by groups with power of argument and influence (Tatagiba, 2002, p.66).
Analysis and Lessons Learned
It is noted in this participation that the elderly population begins to find their own means of social protagonism. Through NGO's participation in forums and various conferences. The struggle of the elderly population for the practice of their rights is still very recent. And as it states Matos (2009), it becomes necessary the political recognition of the differences and also: a the expansion of a more universalist redistributive logic that allows the full realization of equality, as well as the ability to find channels of vocalization of demands between different spheres of subalternalized groups.
It should be emphasized that policies are beginning to be built that really seek the expansion of a redistributive logic, but when we find ourselves in the axes of contemporary identity, women, children and adolescents, blacks, the GLBTS group,
they still have, in the eyes public policies, priorities on the elderly who are not seen as potential elections.
There is an urgent need for the elderly to re-sign the concept of participation, reassessing their role and adopting a more collective view of popular participation, rather than a posture individualistic. It is becoming more and more urgent to break the stereotyped view of economic irrelevance of the elderly, by some managers and society itself, who sees in the elderly population only a source of expenditure. This view despises the potential of the elderly population, the continued growth of this population segment and the importance of the quality of preventive actions that lead to new concepts about aging and the breakdown of prejudices that stigmatize the elderly and do not as a citizen of rights.
Belo Horizonte Participatory Budgeting
Tatagiba, Luciana. (2005). Conselhos gestores de políticas públicas e democracia participativa: aprofundando o debate. Revista de Sociologia e Política, (25), 209-213. https://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0104-44782005000200017
Lead image: Gerência Regional de Comunicação Social Norte https://goo.gl/Wmgj9U