On International Women’s Day 2019, the Blind Foundation recognises work within the blindness community in New Zealand and internationally, advocating for women to be given an equal footing in life.

Supporting this year’s theme, #BalanceforBetter, the gender imbalance for blind and partially sighted women deserves attention.

Judy Small, centre, and Martine Abel Williamson to her left, alongside other speakers at the World Blind Union Asia Pacific’s women’s forum last year.
Judy Small, centre, and Martine Abel Williamson to her left, alongside other speakers at the World Blind Union Asia Pacific’s women’s forum last year.

Judy Small, Blind Foundation Board Director and convenor of the women’s forum at the Asia Pacific World Blind Union, says: “Blind women are no different from other women with disabilities in that they are over-represented in statistics of unemployment, of exploitation of women, of not being able to make independent decisions and choices.

“Often blind and low vision women are afflicted by other people’s attitudes towards what they think disabled women are capable of. Instead, they should let us do whatever it is we aspire to do so we can challenge their perceptions and grow and develop alongside women in all facets of life.

“We in New Zealand are comparatively fortunate as most women can access a range of services, different forms of education, listen to conversations about women’s stories and learn via the media about topical issues. All this is not possible if you do not have access to technology or in some cases, in poorer countries electricity.”

New Zealand’s blind and low vision community has many strong, inspirational women who help to lead the way for others. The Blind Foundation strives for equity for Kiwis living with sight loss, and supports a range of initiatives aimed at reducing the gap. Among these are programmes driving social change such as through membership of the Access Alliance seeking accessibility legislation, and through our Access Advisors’ Accessibility Tick programme supporting businesses to ensure inclusive practices that drive better outcomes in employment and for customers.

Judy says: “Today we take the opportunity to applaud all of the strong women we know, and everyone who has made a difference in helping to achieve a gender-balanced world that includes women with disabilities. Everyone has a part to play in closing the gap, and I encourage you to take a few minutes to reflect on small actions you could take to help us #BalanceforBetter together.”