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A Call to Action: NGOs Working in Blindness Prevention and Treatment Convene Special Forum to Address Gender and Eye Health

WASHINGTON, April 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following was issued today by the Seva Foundation:

WHAT: Leading U.S.-based eye care NGOs are collaborating to host, "Seeing Women: Taking on Gender Inequities in Global Blindness and Care." The inaugural Gender and Eye Health advocacy event will explore the links between gender and blindness, poverty, disability and education and discuss proven strategies to address these gaps.

The goal is to build a strong base of support to accelerate action on this important global issue from multiple sources. Evidence exists that gender specific approaches to improve access to services for women and girls works. The blindness prevention community will present examples of programs that have begun to address gender inequity successfully in the health sector and will discuss the relevance of the issue from both a global health funding and women's right perspective.

Event organizers include Helen Keller International, International Eye Foundation, Kilimanjaro Center for Community Ophthalmology, and Seva Foundation. This activity is coordinated with VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, a joint initiative of the World Health Organization and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.

WHO: Moderator:

  • Victoria Sheffield, President, International Eye Foundation


  • Frances Davidson, Health Science Specialist, USAID
  • Nora O'Connell, Vice President, Women Thrive Worldwide
  • Peter Ackland, CEO, International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness/VISION 2020
  • Kathy Spahn, President & CEO, Helen Keller International
  • Elizabeth Cromwell, Assistant Director, The Carter Center
  • Suzanne Gilbert, Director, Center for Innovation in Eye Care, Seva Foundation
  • Paul Courtright, Co-Director, Kilimanjaro Center for Community Ophthalmology

WHEN: Thursday, April 30, 2009, 8:30 - 10:30 AM (EST)

WHERE: The National Press Club, Holeman Lounge, 529 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC

WHY: Two-thirds of the 45 million bilaterally blind people in the world are female, yet women receive less than half of services. Moreover, 80% of these cases are preventable or treatable.

Success at reducing gender inequity will lead not just to more women and girls receiving sight-restoring or sight-preserving services, it will lead to a significant reduction in disability. What is the impact? Millions of women and girls who would otherwise remain blind will have a chance to attend school, return to work and care for their families.

For more information, visit and email

CONTACT: Dr. Suzanne Gilbert, 415-845-8134,

SOURCE Seva Foundation
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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