How did you mark International Women’s Day this year? In March every year, businesses, communities, and individuals celebrate the remarkable progress made by women in advancing society, politics, economy and culture. However, International Women’s Day also provides the opportunity to reflect upon the areas where improvement is still needed in terms of gender equity, and to highlight the specific challenges faced by women and girls around the world.
Australian-grown international development organization The Fred Hollows Foundation, uses International Women’s Day as a platform to continue to expand its gender equity work with regards to healthcare. Women play a critical role in the advancement of global health, both in formal roles and informally within their families and communities as primary caregivers. However, they are often disempowered from conversations and decision-making that affects their health and wellbeing. Whilst women make up 75% of the global healthcare workforce, they occupy less than 25% of the most influential leadership positions. The Fred Hollows Foundation embeds gender equity in all aspects of its operations, from frontline programmatic work to representation in executive leadership positions, because it recognises the importance of gender inclusion and representation in generating sustainable positive change and ensuring women’s voices are heard.
Women and girls are more likely to be blind or vision impaired than men or boys. Of the 1.1 billion people around the world with untreated vision loss, 55% are women, meaning that women are more likely to suffer loss of livelihoods or independence. The statistics are even more significant among children, where two thirds of those who are visually impaired are girls. In many developing contexts where disabled access services are rudimentary, untreated visual impairment can lead to an inability to attend school, which in turn leads to impaired development and poorer future prospects.
This is why The Fred Hollows Foundation places women and girls firmly at the centre of its programming, service delivery and advocacy efforts. By taking a context-specific approach to addressing gender equity gaps, The Foundation works towards a future where no one is left behind purely on the basis of their gender. For example, by providing eye health services directly in garment factories in Bangladesh and Vietnam, The Foundation is not only bringing quality eye care to tens of thousands of women, allowing them to continue working and supporting their families; but is also proving that looking after women’s health needs leads to increased productivity profitability for businesses.
If you are interested in learning more about The Fred Hollows Foundation’s important sight-saving work, or would like to discuss how to integrate gender equity into your philanthropic or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy, please contact Laura Lee, Chief Representative of The Fred Hollows Foundation for ASEAN at email@example.com