Did you know there is a gender gap in blindness?

55% of people who are visually impaired are women. Two thirds of children who are blind are female. Below, we explore the reasons behind this injustice and meet some of the women who are doing something about it.

In many parts of the world gender inequality means women face additional barriers to accessing eye care that men don't.

These barriers might include a lack of education, limited decision-making power and restricted access to financial resources to pay for treatment. Lower levels of literacy in women can also mean that women aren’t aware of available care, or struggle to access it.

WOMAN AND BLINDNESS: THE CHALLENGES

WOMEN MORE AT RISK OF BLINDING TRACHOMA

Traditional gender roles also put women more at risk of infectious eye diseases. Take trachoma, the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness which results in a blinding condition called trachomatous trichiasis, where the eye lashes rub painfully against the eye.

In areas where trachoma is endemic, it is common among young children. Women make up 70% of people affected by this painful and blinding disease because of their caregiving duties. Women become blind from trachoma up to four times as often as men – most likely because of repeated infections from contact with children.

70% of people affected by blinding trachoma are women

WOMEN, BLINDNESS AND EDUCATION

While it is true that visual impairment affects all children’s access to education in low and middle income countries, girls with visual impairment are even less likely to attend school than boys living with the same conditions.

A lack of education for girls means a lack of opportunity, higher instances of child marriage, less earning power, less autonomy and a higher risk of ill health.

Women who haven’t been through education themselves are also less likely to educate their children, which can lead to a cycle of poverty.

The burden of care giving restricts opportunities & exposes women to a greater risk of infectious eye diseases

WOMEN WHO ARE BLIND CARRY A DOUBLE BURDEN OF DISCRIMINATION

(According to the UN) Women with disabilities are some of most vulnerable in society. Women living with visual impairment can be subject to social exclusion and discrimination, and are more vulnerable to abuse, due to both their disability and their gender. Yet 80% of women living with visual impairment have conditions that are avoidable or could be treated.

WHAT WE'RE DOING

OUR COMMITMENT TO GENDER

The most recent global data on blindness trends predicts that blindness and visual impairment could triple in the next 30 years, unless we do something about it. The heart-breaking fact is, women and children will be disproportionately affected by crisis.

We launched a new three-year Global Strategic Plan where we made it a priority to tackle this injustice head on. Much of our past work has helped alleviate the burden of blindness for women and girls, but we know we there is further to go if we are to seriously address this imbalance.

Empowering women to access eye care will not only help address gender inequalities but will have a broader impact on communities, as well as the wider economy. But we need your help.

Will you stand with us today and help us save the sight of women and girls all over the world?

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