Sunday 8 March 2020

International Women's Day: Amazing Sight-Saving Women

International Women's Day is a commemorative day that hadn't even landed on my radar until I started to work with charities and NGO's like Save the Children, One and Samaritan's Purse back in 2011/12. I've never been much of a feminist; my narrative growing up was that women could be who they wanted to be and do what they wanted to do. I was lucky to have parents who believed in me and pushed me to break any glass ceilings that got in my way.

It was having my own children and especially my twin girls that really lit my passion for fighting for the rights of parents (particularly mothers) everywhere. My time as a #ONEMum has shaped my life immensely, and events like International Day of the Girl (11 October each year) and International Women's Day (8 March) are now pivotal in my calendar and I hate to let them pass without marking them in some way, and especially without speaking out on behalf of those who find it hard to share their voice.

See the Way

This IWD I want to share with you the ‘See the Way,’ appeal from CBM UK which is raising money to help more people access sight-saving surgery, glasses and support so they can go to school, read and write, get around safely and support themselves and their families. The appeal has been running since 12th February and goes on until 12th May 2020. The most wonderful news is that they have match funding from the UK government and for every £1 that someone like you or me donates, the government matches it and thus there is twice the money to go towards sight-saving initiatives in Malawi.

Nearly two-thirds of the world’s blind people are women. Too often, women’s health and wellbeing is still valued less than that of men, which means they are less likely to access sight-saving medical care. International Women’s Day, is a day to remember the continued gender imbalance in our world but it is also a day to celebrate the huge role that women around the world play in driving positive change.

Women like Debisa, who is based in the Amhara region in Northern Ethiopia, are working every day to help ensure that fewer people go needlessly blind from conditions that can be treated. When I spent a couple of weeks in Ethiopia in 2012 visiting community projects I met so many of the rural health workers and they were amazing women. Most of them were young and passionate to see change; to help their fellow Ethiopians be as well as possible, despite the very challenging situations most of them lived in.

Debisa goes from village to village to find people living with trachoma and provide them with eye drops to save their sight. Trachoma is an infectious disease which causes roughening of the inner eyelids. This roughness leads to pain, damage to the cornea and eventual blindness if left untreated, but something as simple as these eye drops make a real difference. This region in Ethiopia has one of the highest trachoma prevalence rates in the world – over half of the population have this blinding eye condition, and that is why Debisa and her colleagues are working with CBM to change this.

I'm sure you'll agree that the See the way appeal is very worthwhile and any donations made will help train health workers, equip hospitals and strengthen eye health systems for the future, helping build communities where nobody is needlessly blind in Malawi.

If you'd like to make a donation, however small, please do. 

And this International Women's Day take time to think about all the female champions you know, the women making a difference, whether that is through supporting the next generation as a teacher or mother, or a woman moving to the top of her field and making a worldwide difference.

Who is CBM?
Too many people face poverty and isolation, denied the chance to go to school or earn a living, just because they have a disability. Driven by Christian values, CBM works in the world’s poorest places, preventing blindness, improving health and transforming the lives of people with disabilities. For more information about CBM, visit

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