Sightsavers, an organization founded in 1950 by Sir John Wilson dedicated to the prevention of blindness in some of the most impoverished places on earth has in recent times focused on the idea of disability inclusion with help of Disabled People’s Organizations around the world. Although the primary task of Sightsavers has always been the establishment of national organizations to ensure education, promote a general sense of welfare for visually impaired individuals and rehabilitation, a new perspective has been breached in hopes of empowering young women with visual impairment, the power to feel safe in potentially dangerous places through the art of Judo.
The common understanding in regard to families and women facing the stigma of visual impairment had always been plagued by fear, although DPOs had been established in locations such as Bhopal, India, attendance was not being met by the women who were active members. After pondering what the possible reason might be for lack of attendance, Sightsavers paired with local DPO to ask women what was preventing them from accessing such programs and meetings at their disposal. The answer was very straightforward, fear. Fear leads them to feel unsafe and generally unwilling to leave their homes. That’s when Sightsavers with the help of DPO Tarun Sanskar started providing self-defense seminars which in turn, became teaching the discipline of Judo. The outcome had phenomenal success, so much that women not only started partaking in communal activities and travel, the newfound confidence and hope inspired the establishment of tournaments and competitions on the international scale!
Investing in creative development projects that enable people with disabilities, is quintessential in providing a future for people with disabilities to reach full potential. That’s why full participation and attendance is needed at the summit; to inspire change and provide a way to make a difference for current and future generations.
The need for Sightsavers to provide innovative disability inclusion methods and support groups stems from the startling statistics that women compose Fifty-five percent of the thirty-six million people affected with some form of visual impairment. In addition, women in impoverished areas with visual impairment are the last to be medically treated and have double the unemployment rate in comparison with men with only one percent of the women achieving literacy. These statistics only further drive organizations such a Sightsavers to pave ways for successful futures, medical treatment/rehabilitation and most importantly confidence in oneself to achieve a life without fear, and self-preservation.