Council highlights Gender Equity

Chief Executive Officer
Organisation: The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness

Jennifer Gersbeck, Chair, Gender Equity Work Group. IAPB Commits to Gender Equity.

I was delighted that the Council of Members meeting this year shone a spotlight on gender equity in both our programme work and within our organisations.

When the world invests in girls and women, everybody wins – Women Deliver.

The latest data shows that 55% of the world’s vision impaired are women. In industrialised countries this is largely because women live longer than men, but in non-industrialised settings, where cataract is responsible for most blindness, it is often because women do not get to access services with the same frequency as men.

You can also read about the challenges for women in our member organisations in the blogs they shared earlier this year on International Women’s Day [Edit: Do also note our International Women’s Day 2020 stories).

I encourage every member organisation to make use of the resources and initiatives launched at Council and outlined below.  As highlighted at The Fred Hollows Foundation gender breakfast Your Power: Progressing Gender Equity in Eye Health we all have a role to play in making change happen for women and girls in eye health.

Pledge for 2020

I’d also like to reiterate the pledge that I made in the opening plenary session and reaffirm IAPB’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

From now on, across IAPB meetings, such as the Global Assembly in Singapore next October, at least 50% of speakers will be women.

We will work to see that this commitment to diversity is delivered alongside increasing the diversity and inclusion in eye health leadership.  We know that many groups are under-represented in global eye health leadership including women, people from low-income and middle-income countries, people of colour, and socially disadvantaged populations.

Website hub for Gender Equity launched

The Gender Equity Work Group (GEWG), chaired by Jennifer Gersbeck, Executive Director of Advocacy and Sector Engagement at The Fred Hollows Foundation, launched a revamped section on the IAPB website.

Here you can find a variety of tools and resources to help you assess and ensure that your programmes and organisations are gender-sensitive and responsive. Please visit this hub and share it with your teams!

Toolkit now available

The gender equity toolkit synthesises practice, guidelines and resources to help deliver eye health programmes that are gender sensitive, gender responsive and gender transformative and support your organisation’s gender equity approach.

The tools and resources provided cover:

  • organisational development
  • programme design
  • programme review
  • educational resources.

If you have further resources to include in the toolkit, please contact the GEWG.

How gender responsive is your organisation?

IAPB is partnering with the Lancet Commission on Global Eye Health to understand how gender responsive our member organisations are. I encourage you to register your organisation for the 10-minute survey and join this important initiative for positive change. The survey will ask you questions on policies and practice, and the gender of your organisation’s leadership groups, drawing on questions from the Global Health 5050 tool.

The GEWG will use this information to inform future initiatives and it will also provide valuable input into the Lancet Commission on Global Eye Health which will be launched at the IAPB Global Assembly next year.

Please register your interest at the link below.

Responses are confidential and will not be shared outside the research team without your explicit permission

What more will we do?

IAPB will continue advocating for inclusion and equity with governments, and of course by leading by example.

Through the work of the GEWG, and across IAPB, the eye care sector has a unique moment to come together and speak with one voice to strengthen gender equity and equity more widely in our organisations.

If you would like to join the GEWG, please contact Rachael Bourke.