“Communities, countries and ultimately the world, are only as strong as their women’s health.” – Michelle Obama.

Flarell Rose Caldeira, March 2023

Sightsavers India has been working towards eye health since 1966. This longstanding association within the healthcare sector has given Sightsavers a certain depth in understanding the requirements of Persons with disabilities. The programmes executed by Sightsavers India in Katni, a district in Madhya Pradesh, follow the model of a High Impact district and aims at prioritising the principle of universal eye health coverage for populations with no access to such facilities. Strategic efforts are being made towards enhancement services to include elements such as cataracts, and refractive error, which later extended to Diabetic Retinopathy, Glaucoma etc. Proactive partnerships & linkages were developed to ensure a comprehensive district transformation with a particular focus on providing services to women.

Katni, Madhya Pradesh

The Rural Eye Health Programme in Katni encompasses large, underserved communities in rural Madya Pradesh. The Programme disseminates valuable eye health information, door to door via Asha workers and ensures those detected with eye ailments are provided check-ups or surgeries if needed. Community members can also avail of preliminary services from static vision centres besides camps.

The Social Inclusion Programme in Katni has primarily focused on providing access to livelihood and education to persons with disabilities, with a growing focus on young girls and women. The Programme emphasises social security, economic empowerment of the disabled, strengthening organisations for people with disabilities (PwDs) and policy-influencing initiatives to enable inclusive environments for PwDs. The overarching goal of the Social Inclusion programme is to empower PwDs; socially, economically, and politically in an inclusive society.

The Tanya Computer Centre was launched in Katni to enhance the capacities of Persons with Visual Impairment in digital literacy and personality development. These classes would provide the girls studying in Higher Education with more avenues to explore career opportunities. Secondly, preference is given to those already registered with the OPD leading to livelihood opportunities. These initiatives portray the importance of combining resources and collaborations to provide accessible services to the Project participants.

Tanya Computer Centre, supported by Madison Resource Foundation

Swati SHG visit, Kharkhari: Kharkhari is a small village with a population of 1810 (2011 Census) with 395 households. The total number of PwDs is 53, out of which 24 are women. In Dec 2021, PwDs were included in the SHGs, and Sightsavers India formed Swati SHG under National Rural Livelihood Mission and trained the beneficiaries on trade and bookkeeping. NRLM provided them with revolving funds of Rs. 15000 and, after some time, helped them get cash credit linkage (CCL) of Rs. 150000 to start a dairy business. The lady leading the group commented, “before being part of the SHG, she was shunned by her family; however, now that she is an earning member, the work has given her purpose. She intends to continue thinking of ways she and her group can increase their income through trade.

In conclusion, gender influences people’s attitudes towards healthcare and livelihood. Sightsavers India will continue on its path to work towards gender equality and inclusion. Women everywhere deserve affordable, accessible, and proper healthcare and livelihood opportunities, and they should be given these opportunities with quality, equity and dignity.

Swati Self-Help Group in Karkhari, Katni