Press Release in honour of Interna
tional Women’s Day 2016
Toronto, March 8th, 2016: International Women’s Day encourages us all to reflect on the importance of gender equality, to celebrate the successes of women, and to acknowledge the work that is still left to be done. “With women making up more than 50% of the world’s population and often being the main link for the family and connection to the community, there remains a great deal of work to be done to ensure equal rights in all aspects of life,” says WBU Immediate Past President and Chair of the International Disability Alliance, Maryanne Diamond.
For women who are blind, access to information, health, and reproductive rights, education, employment and participation in all aspects of the community must be supported to achieve equality with other women and with men. For example, blind women’s access to information is a serious issue, especially health and reproductive information. Just as sighted women want access to the latest health and parenting information, so do blind women. However, unlike sighted women, most blind women do not have access to the array of materials available due to the inaccessibility of printed materials, especially reference materials. Less than 10% of printed materials are made into accessible formats and in developing countries it’s often less than 1%. With the appropriate support and information, blind women are as effective and competent as sighted women are at raising children and caring for their families.
One way we can improve blind women’s access to information is by advocating for the universal ratification and implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty. This treaty will allow for more books and printed materials to be published in accessible formats, and for blindness organizations to share books across borders providing access to a wider variety of printed materials for blind and partially sighted women all over the world.
Blind and partially sighted girls also suffer from a lack of access to information, especially in developing countries, where less than 1% of blind girls receive a full education. Most developing countries’ inclusive educational systems do not have the resources or specialized teachers required to effectively educate blind children, which often means the best option available is a specialized school. Families are often hesitant to send their blind girl child to these schools, even more than a blind boy child. This hesitancy is often grounded in both the fear of sending their blind daughter to a school in the city, especially when she is from a rural area, and also from the perceived low value of a girl’s education. Many families are not aware of opportunities that are available to blind girls and women to become gainfully employed and to be fully active and productive members of their communities. Access to information and education are keys to unlocking these opportunities, so we must work to overcome the multiple barriers to information and education that exist for blind women and girls.
You can learn more about the Marrakesh Treaty on our campaign page:http://www.worldblindunion.org/English/our-work/our-priorities/Pages/right-2-read-campaign.aspx