What we can do about gender and blindness inequity.

Jon Kaplan photo for Seva Canada - Guatemala Monica Panini

(c) Jon Kaplan

Two-thirds of the world’s 39 million blind people are women and girls, primarily because they receive treatment half as often as men. With 90% of the world’s blind living in developing countries, the number of women and girls struggling for life’s most basic needs is a shocking but relatively unknown statistic. Gender and blindness inequity exists across virtually all of the preventable and treatable conditions causing blindness, including cataracts, the most common cause of avoidable blindness, glaucoma and trachoma. Women and girls of all ages are more frequently exposed to causative factors such as infectious diseases and they use eye care services less frequently than men. This is primarily associated with the low literacy rates and the low socioeconomic status of women. Seva Canada has been working for 30 years to restore sight and prevent blindness in the developing world by creating local, sustainable programs that achieve long-term change. Seva has taken explicit leadership in the gender and blindness global initiative by developing specific strategies focused on overcoming cultural and economic barriers for women and girls to access eye care. Seva believes that it is imperative to find solutions to address gender and blindness inequity to help women and girls have a healthy and productive life, gain an education, have a family and escape the cycle of poverty. Giving women and girls the power of sight positively changes their lives, the lives of their family and their entire community.

Young cambodian girl with mother post-op with bandage over her right eye

(c) Karl Grobl

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