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Gender Equity

Gender equity is about identifying and overcoming entrenched barriers that prevent women accessing eye health services

What does gender equity mean in relation to eye care?

Women bear approximately two-thirds of the burden of blindness in the world,1 80% of which is preventable or treatable.2 This is a multi-faceted problem, and a result of cultural practices rather than physiology, which can range widely in different locations.

These practices may include:
  • limited ability to venture to public places where health services are available;
  • reduced priority in family financial decisions;
  • low levels of education and minimal knowledge of eye health;
  • restricted options due to remoteness and lack of transport; and
  • negative feelings associated with wearing glasses.

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What local and global outcomes can we achieve?

Our programs are tackling this disparity through several approaches, including:
  • conducting training programs and vision screening programs that specifically target women;
  • raising awareness at national, regional and community levels about inequalities in eye care;
  • providing other forms of support for women to follow a career in eye care.
The introduction of gender-based innovations through our programs has provided identifiable outcomes at the local level. We believe increasing these initiatives in a scalable approach, directly targeting marginalised members of communities, is the key to improving eye health outcomes for women.

“It was interesting and great to see women in senior management positions when I was in Vientnam, so the director of the University, the head of the Ophthalmology Education Department and also the Brien Holden Vision Institute Country Representative were all female”

Jessie Huang

References

1. Abou-Gareeb I, Lewallen S, Bassett K, Courtright P. Gender and blindness: a meta-analysis of population-based prevalence surveys. Ophthalmic epidemiology 2001; 8(1): 39-56.
2. World Health Organization, Visual Impairment and Blindness, Fact Sheet No 282; accessed on 11 October 2016 at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs282/en/