The Fred Hollows Foundation, a non-profit organization based on Australia, has created a new initiative to focus on women’s eye health and prevent avoidable blindness called SheSees.
Why specifically women’s healthcare? The Fred Hollows Foundation addresses avoidable blindness for all people around the world, but this initiative specifically focuses on women because of a gender gap in women’s eye care. The foundation website states that women are 1.3 times more likely to be blind or vision impaired than men, and 4 out of 5 women’s conditions are preventable with appropriate eye care. The reason for this disparity varies, the foundation notes, but in some cases the culture of various countries like Pakistan view women’s eye disabilities as a burden to the family, and as a result they will not seek treatment.
SheSees provides services to women through different avenues, such as training more women to be eye professionals and serve their fellow women, or through targeted programs such as visiting garment factories in Bangladesh and Vietnam, or female agriculture and cottage industry workers in Pakistan in order to reach women who may not seek help. These efforts are making a difference globally in 25 countries already, and helping women maintain and improve their eyesight.
What’s more, these efforts help women’s quality of life socially as well as physically. Without eyesight, women cannot fully function as members of their societies and families, and in turn, this can affect girls who must stay home from their schooling to help their mothers. SheSees is helping to bring a higher quality of life to all women, whether they have eye disabilities or not.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Fred Hollows Foundation is that they are meeting the needs of people where the need can easily be met. Though becoming blind means a dramatic life change, most blindness is easily prevented through simple healthcare and attention to those who do not have access to this care. This foundation serves as a great example of the simple ways that organizations can make a significant impact in communities through their knowledge and talents.