This profile was prepared when Sonia Andrade was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1999.
The New Idea
Sonia is helping Ecuador understand, articulate, and address the needs of senior citizens. Sonia creatively applies the proven tactics of human rights advocacygrassroots organizing, publicity campaigns, legal reform, overhaul of social welfare, and international lawto this integral but previously ignored segment of society. Sonia rejects standard charity work, in which the elderly are mere beneficiaries of individual or collective largesse, and embraces instead, a participatory, activist style in which elderly people themselves lead a public campaign to establish and protect basic human rights. Sonia organizes young and old people to challenge conventional attitudes about senior citizens' needs, abilities, and overall role in society. Her goal is to narrow the generation gap by helping start joint business ventures, addressing some of each group's basic needs, and exposing young Ecuadorians to issues they will face later in life.