International Women’s Day
Each year on March 8, people around the world celebrate International Women’s Day – an opportunity to reflect on progress towards gender equality and what we can do to create a fairer and more equitable world. At Mazharul Haque BNSB Eye Hospital, we know that blindness is a gender issue and are committed to alleviating unequal access to eye care.
Globally, 1.1 billion people live with vision loss, including blindness. Women and girls make up 55% of these people – that’s 112 million more women than men.
Women-led Green Vision Centers are an innovative approach that not only improves the quality of eye health in communities that have traditionally lacked access to care but also operates with sustainability at the forefront. By being women-led, the centers address a variety of traditional barriers for women and girls. Mazharul Haque BNSB Eye Hospital trains women-led management teams to run the centers with support from Orbis International. This is important because many women are more likely to seek eye care for themselves and their children when it is administered by other women. It also empowers women in the community through job creation and increasing their financial independence.
The centers also directly address additional barriers to care that women face such as lack of finances, free time, or safety concerns. The Women-led Green Vision Centers are subsidized for those unable to afford care, ensuring women and girls without access to financial resources can still receive care for free or at a reduced cost. As these vision centers are community-based, it means women unable to travel long distances on their own (due to safety concerns or having limited free time due to household, childcare, or other responsibilities) are still able to access care.
Why Is Blindness a Gender Issue?
Finances are often directed first toward other priorities, forcing women and girls to go without. Women are burdened with household and childcare responsibilities, which leaves them with little time to tend to their own needs.
Women often have fewer options for travel than men and are more vulnerable to unsafe situations away from home. Older women may require assistance, which poor families cannot provide.
For cultural or other reasons, women might not seek care from a male practitioner.
Globally, women represent only 25-30% of ophthalmologists and 35-45% of professionals-in-training, few of whom are in low- and middle-income countries
Closing the gender blindness gap for women and girls
For several months prior to visiting Shahrasti Vision Center of Mazharul HAque BNSB Eye Hospital, Anwara had been suffering from vision problems. Unable to afford the costs to see a qualified doctor, she was unaware that she had cataracts and sought relief from a medication that ultimately aggravated her condition, causing her increased pain and discomfort.
Women-Led Green Vision Centers: Brighter days ahead for Eti
Eti is a school student from Chandpur District, Bangladesh, who recently visited the Shahrasti Women-Led Green Vision Center by Mazharul Haque BNSB Eye Hospital after months of headaches and dizziness. In the Shahrasti sub-district alone, it is estimated that more than 30,000 people are living with vision loss, and a further 3,000 living with blindness.
Women-Led Green Vision Centers: Meet an eye health hero
Patients visits Ramgati Vision Center with many problems and if critical problems found , offered them treatment through teleconsultation with a Eye Specialist at Mazharul Haque BNSB Eye Hospital. "It is a women-friendly vision center with mostly female patients coming here. Women and girls feel very comfortable sharing their problems with me, and I am able to provide treatment cheerfully" Nurun tells us.